Inspired by the impressive Lee Hendrie, one of a clutch of astute loan signings with which manager Tony Pulis has reinvigorated his side, Stoke scored twice in the space of five minutes early in the second half to confirm to Roy Keane that the task of getting Sunderland back on track is as difficult as he imagined it would be.
The night was spoilt, however, by a serious injury to Rory Delap, who was making his home debut for the Potteries side on loan from Sunderland. The 30-year-old Republic of Ireland international broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg.
Keane's team led through Dwight Yorke's first goal for the Wearside club, but Hendrie equalised and then played a key role in creating the winning goal for Vincent Pericard, leaving Sunderland with a modest haul of 10 points from Keane's first seven matches in charge.
However, he was quick to dispel any fears among Sunderland fans that his enthusiasm for the job might wane if success did not come quickly. "It is a big challenge, but I'm here to see the job through," he said.
Pulis admitted that his teamwere unsettled by the loss of Delap, who crumpled under a vigorous challenge from defender Robbie Elliott after only nine minutes. He said: "It's devastating for Rory. I wouldn't even hazard a guess at how long he might be out.
"It took the steam out of my players. I felt some of them had it on their minds for the rest of the first half."
Two goals in five minutes early in the second half dragged Stoke back into the contest after Yorke had fired home from close range to send the visitors in 1-0 up at half-time.
Hendrie equalised after 49 minutes, sweeping home after the ball had spun away from Mamady Sidibe, then played a key role in the move that culminated in Stoke's second goal, the Aston Villa player's backheeled pass setting up Andy Griffin to deliver a superb deep cross that Pericard headed home.
Stoke withstood some late pressure, Steve Simonsen pulling off a fine save from substitute Chris Brown in the last minute.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Hoefkens, Duberry, Higginbotham, Griffin; Delap (Chadwick 12), Diao, Russell, Hendrie (Brammer, 78); Sidibe (Fuller, 68), Pericard. Substitutes not used: Bangoura, Wilkinson.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Ward; Nosworthy, Varga, D Collins, R Elliott; Miller, Whitehead (Brown, 68), Leadbitter, Wallace (Murphy, 68); Yorke, Connolly. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Lawrence, Clarke.
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).Reuse content