Sunderland sail past Stoke to ease pressure on Beale

27 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Chelsea loanee Mason Burstow ended his long wait for a first Sunderland goal as the Black Cats beat Stoke 3-1 to ease the pressure on head coach Michael Beale.

The forward broke his duck in his 14th appearance for the club before Abdoullah Ba and Pierre Ekwah also scored to end the hosts’ run of three straight defeats in all competitions and move them level on points with sixth-placed Coventry in the Championship.

A Jenson Seelt own-goal was a mere consolation for Stoke, who remained 19th after their second straight loss.

Some Sunderland fans chanted for Beale to be sacked during last week’s defeat to Hull and the problems deepened for the former Rangers boss this week, with the Black Cats publishing a statement before kick-off on Saturday claiming midfielder Alex Pritchard had “made himself unavailable to play and expressed his desire to leave with immediate effect”.

But Beale and the Black Cats put those issues to one side against Steven Schumacher’s visitors.

The hosts were the brighter of the two sides from the off and had two good chances to break the deadlock in the opening quarter of an hour.

Jack Clarke has been the shining light for Sunderland this season and he could have added to his 13 goals when he blazed over from inside the box. Moments later, the former Tottenham and Leeds winger teed up midfielder Ekwah, who tried to catch out Stoke goalkeeper Daniel Iversen at his front post but hit the side-netting.

Stoke’s best chance of the first half came 10 minutes before the break. Midfielder Luke Cundle was denied by Anthony Patterson after a rampaging run from defender Ben Wilmot. The Potters kept the move alive and Bae Jun-ho looked certain to score only for Luke O’Nien to come to Sunderland’s rescue with a superb goal-line clearance.

Sunderland broke the deadlock two minutes before half-time. Dangerman Clarke darted down the left flank, his cross looped into the air and Ba nodded into the path of Burstow to bundle home his first goal of the season from close range.

Tyrese Campbell had a chance to level for Stoke just 22 seconds after the restart but lacked composure and ballooned his shot over the bar – and Sunderland quickly made the Potters pay.

Clarke was again involved, cutting in from the left after a rapid counter and teeing up Ba, who kept his cool and slotted home.

Ba created the third 20 minutes from time, picking out Ekwah, who found the bottom the corner from inside the box.

Stoke scored what proved to be a consolation four minutes later when a cross from ex-Sunderland defender Lynden Gooch was turned into his own net by Seelt.

The managers

Sunderland’s Michael Beale:

“I’m delighted with the players and for them. The work ethic of the boys and togetherness behind the scenes, it’s been a
difficult few weeks with the last two or three results, but it was a really good win today.

“It’s been an interesting start to (my time at) the club, hasn’t it? There’s a lot of emotion.

“I’m all in for the club. I want to be here for the long term and it’s important that my team and our team go on the pitch and put in performances that fans can get behind.

“Today they did. It’s one performance, we want to build on it.”

Stoke’s Steven Schumacher:

“I felt we played well, controlled large parts of the game and got into some really good areas and created loads of big chances but weren’t clinical enough.

“We haven’t got that belief in the final third. To miss the target as we did today is unacceptable and Sunderland punished us with their moments and their quality players.

“To have 37 shots in the last two games – and big opportunities – to not work the keeper as often as we are is just not good enough. And you’re not going to win games at this level like that.

“We had big chances before all three of their goals. It’s disappointing and frustrating but we have to keep going.”

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