Angry Pulis hoping for climate change
Stoke City 0 Sunderland 1
If it took him as long to drive home as it did for most spectators trapped on the snowbound and gridlocked roads on Saturday evening, then it would be no wonder that Tony Pulis had his mind on the climate.
It was in his thoughts, anyway, in a different context, after a 45th-minute red card for his defender Robert Huth, who was sent off after sliding feet first into a challenge with Sunderland's David Meyler. In the current climate, to borrow the popular phrase, it was not the wisest thing to do.
Pulis did not disagree. But he disagreed with Martin Atkinson, the referee, so vehemently that he sent Match of the Day an email containing a photograph of the incident to illustrate his point.
"His feet are on the ground and he pulls away from the challenge," he said. The picture, which shows Huth's legs bent and toes pointing downwards at the moment of impact, appears to support his case.
He accused Meyler of cheating. "Why did he react like that if there was no contact? It is creeping into the game where players are going down with the intention of getting other players booked or sent off."
Atkinson needed no imaginary card-waving from Sunderland's Martin O'Neill, reinforcing the suspicion that officials are under orders to so punish any two-footed challenge, although the referees chief, Mike Riley, said at the weekend that while the issue was being discussed, there was no new advice.
Pulis said Stoke will appeal, although no outcome, of course, can alter a result that confirmed Sunderland in eighth place and saw Stoke, with one win in eight, slip back to 12th.
Sunderland's winner came from 22-year-old James McClean, a young Irish winger whose progress appeared to have stalled until O'Neill gave him his senior debut in his first game in charge. It was his third goal in 11 first-team appearances.
"I saw James in a reserve game against a strong Manchester United side and he did exceptionally well," said O'Neill. "We sent him on at 1-0 down with 15 minutes left against Blackburn and the first thing he did was to go past the full-back and get a cross in. That gave everyone a lift and he has just continued in the same vein."
Stoke: SORENSEN 7/10; WILKINSON 6; SHAWCROSS 6; HUTH 6; WILSON 7; PENNANT 6; DELAP 7; WHELAN 6; WALTERS 6; CROUCH 7; JEROME 6
Sunderland: MIGNOLET 7; RICHARDSON 7; TURNER 6; O'SHEA 7; BARDSLEY 6; MEYLER 7; McCLEAN 8; COLBACK 8; GARDNER 7; LARSSON 6; SESSEGNON 6
Scorer: Sunderland McClean 60.
Substitutes: Stoke City Fuller 5 (Jerome, 40), Woodgate 6 (Pennant, 45), Shotton (Wilkinson, 85). Sunderland Elmohamady (Meyler, 85).
Booked: Sunderland O'Shea.
Sent off: Stoke Huth (45).
Man of the match McClean. Match rating 5/10. Possession: Stoke 54% Sunderland 46%.
Attempts on target: Stoke 6 Sunderland 2.
Referee M Atkinson (West Yorkshire). Att 27,717.
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