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Match Report: Sunderland 3-1 Stoke - Strikers Do Score Goals!

Sunderland win for the first time in the league this season as Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher strike to earn the home side all three points.

Nigel Roddis

It took some time but Sunderland finally clinched all three points from a Premier League game this season and, as if that wasn't enough, all three goals were scored by our starting strikers, with Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher on the scoresheet.

Gus Poyet made two changes from the goalless draw against Swansea, with Fletcher and Jordi Gomez replacing Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell. Those changes saw Wickham move out wide to accommodate Fletcher who started up front, although not a popular decision due to the Scottish international's struggles in front of goal, Poyet's decision paid dividends as the pair linked up to steer Sunderland to victory.

The opening goal came in the fifth minute when Fletcher got away down the right with the help of a lucky ricochet and put in a great cross that left Wickham, on his 50th Premier League appearance for Sunderland, with the relatively simple task of heading past Asmir Begovic.

That probably should have been the catalyst for the home side to push on but like the Capital One Cup defeat to the same opponents 10 days ago, Sunderland went into their shell after taking the lead. Despite being giving a warning sign after Stephen N'Zonzi shot tamely at Vito Mannone when he really should have done better, they soon allowed Stoke to get back into the game, which they duly did in the 15th minute when Victor Moses fed Charlie Adam and the Scot took advantage of John O'Shea backpeddaling by firing through our captains legs into the back of the net, leaving Mannone with no chance.

Unlike the Capital One Cup defeat, the home side made amends for conceding just eight minutes later when Seb Larsson took a short corner to Jordi Gomez, who found Fletcher with his cross and he made no mistake with a cushioned header into the far post, breaking his nine-month goal drought in the process.

After taking the lead for the second time in the space of 24 minutes, Sunderland once again took their foot of the pedal and played cautiously, almost allowing Stoke back into the game yet again, with Mannone making smart saves from Charlie Adam's free kick and Peter Crouch's acrobatic volley. Will Buckley did test Begovic at the other end with a shot that looked suspiciously like a miscued cross but we went in at the break 2-1 up.

The second half started as the first half ended, with Sunderland happy to sit back and stifle Stoke's counter attacking tactics but that led to few chances of note to either side, as both Mannone and Begovic had very little work to do.

Oussama Assaidi's deflected cross forced a smart save from Mannone in the 73rd minute but that was as close as either side came until 11 minutes from time, when Wickham took the game by the scruff of the neck. The big striker received the ball from Patrick van Aanholt just inside his own half, surged past three defenders, ignored a likely foul on him to square the ball but after second half substitute Rodwell comically missed the ball and an open goal, Fletcher was on hand to wrap up victory and his second goal of the game by steering the ball into the roof of the net.

It was certainly not a vintage performance by Poyet's men but it was a good victory against a side who were unbeaten away from home in the league this season. With Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City up next at the Stadium of Light, it may prove to be a crucial three points at a vital time and we can now head to Southampton in a fortnight with a bit of confidence as we look to build on our first league win of the season.

Sunderland (4-3-3): Mannone; Jones, Vergini, O'Shea, van Aanholt; Larsson (Rodwell 71'), Cattermole, Gomez (Bridcutt 71'); Buckley (Johnson 60'), Fletcher, Wickham.

Stoke (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Muniesa; Whelan (Bojan 70'), N'Zonzi; Moses (Assaidi 18'), Adam, Arnautovic; Crouch (Walters 78').

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