This match was between two teams who were struggling near the bottom of the table at precisely the wrong time of the season.
Sunderland, now managed by Ricky Sbragia following Roy Keane’s resignation, had only won one of their previous seven games and our opponents were also experiencing a torrid run of form, with only one win from their previous sixteen.
Naturally, this led to a tight and nervy affair between two teams who were crippled by the anxiety of losing.
Hoping to find a system and formation which might’ve reaped rewards, Sbragia had shuffled his pack in previous weeks, leading to the omission of first team regulars Steed Malbranque and Kieran Richardson.
One of the players who benefitted was winger Carlos Edwards, who was finally putting a string of matches together after a tough time with injuries.
The Trinidad and Tobago international was seeking to prove a point and his link up play with the impressive Djibril Cissé was one of the few highlights of a tense affair where very few chances were created throughout.
The enigmatic Frenchman was a constant threat against a Hull defence who seemed determined to play a high line.
This strategy nearly cost the away side when Cissé beat the offside trap on a couple of occasions, but the quick reactions of goalkeeper Boaz Myhill averted any danger.
Phil Brown’s team, meanwhile, created some openings for themselves.
Geovanni’s dipping volley was just too high and he later crossed for Kevin Kilbane, whose diving header was pushed away smartly by Craig Gordon.
In the final minute of the first half, we got our goal and there were no prizes for guessing who scored it.
After a corner from Edwards went too deep, Cissé was ideally placed at the far post to nod home from a knock on from inside the six yard box, although Hull supporters might’ve argued that he was in an offside position.
That goal was crucial and it gave Sbragia’s men the impetus and momentum which eventually carried them through the entire second half.
As the game wore on, chances were at a premium and our midfield of Andy Reid, Grant Leadbitter and Teemu Tainio were doing enough to control proceedings.
We continued to press and were unfortunate when Jones was just ahead of the final defender when he headed in from three yards, and at the other end, George Boateng launched a ferocious strike from twenty yards that swerved narrowly wide of the upright.
The Lads remained generally the more dangerous team, with Jones glancing a header inches wide before Reid, not a man renowned for his rapid bursts forward, surged clear but spooned a shot over the bar under pressure.
In typical Sunderland fashion, we didn’t make it comfortable for ourselves and Republic of Ireland striker Caleb Folan headed agonisingly wide as Hull sought an equaliser late on, but it was all in vain.
We would ultimately hold on, but it could’ve been a little more comfortable had Daryl Murphy’s piledriver not come back off the post.
All in all, it was an enormous win for the Black Cats.
Sbragia’s Sunderland were struggling and we failed to win a game for the rest of the season, but the Scot expressed his relief at full time.
“We came under a lot of pressure but both defences were difficult to breach.”
“I don’t care if our goal was offside, we had a bit of luck but had a number of chances.”
“It was a vital win for us and overall I think we deserved it.”
Luckily for him, our biggest rivals in the shape of Newcastle and Middlesbrough were in even worse form than ourselves.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Davenport; Ferdinand, Collins, Edwards (Malbranque 78’), Leadbitter; Tainio, Reid (Richardson 76’), Cisse (Murphy 90’), Jones
Subs not used: Fulop, Ben Haim, Yorke, McShane
Booked: Cisse, Richardson.
Goals: Cisse 45’
Hull: Myhill, Ricketts, Zayatte; Turner, Dawson, Fagan; Geovanni (Mendy 74), Boateng (Barmby 77), Marney (Folan 68), Kilbane; Manucho
Subs not used: Duke, Doyle, Halmosi, Cousin
Booked: Turner, Kilbane, Fagan
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral)