It is said that good things come to those who wait and the Stoke City striker, Dave Kitson, should appreciate that after ending a Premier League goal drought which was becoming embarrassing.
Kitson, a club record £5.5m buy from Reading in July of last year, was scoring for the second time this week – he was also on target in the Carling Cup victory against Leyton Orient – but the relief which greeted his match-winning goal at the Britannia Stadium yesterday was understandable.
"The supporters of this football club have been remarkable. They have stayed behind someone who had not scored for over 12 months and that's unusual to say the least," said the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis.
"Dave had his problems last season. His family struggled to settle in the area, but that's now been sorted out and in fairness to him he came back a lot brighter in pre-season, not just with himself but with the group as a whole."
Kitson's previous Premier League goal was for Reading in a 4-0 win at Derby on the final day of the 2008-09 season – both clubs were relegated.
His 43rd minute effort yesterday delivered Stoke a second win in their four opening Premier League fixtures and enhanced a growing belief in the Potteries that this season need not necessarily be about survival alone.
Pulis has built a solid squad, reinforced by the fact that he felt comfortable in keeping the £12m worth of talent he captured from Middlesbrough in midweek – defender Robert Huth and striker Tuncay Sanli – on the substitutes' bench until the closing stages.
It was a contest of unsophisticated, often brutal, football in unseasonally blustery conditions which exposed once again Sunderland's vulnerability at defending set-pieces, paving the way for Kitson to volley in from eight yards after Liam Lawrence's corner-kick was only partially cleared.
The visitors had two chances to make their mark on the game. Both fell before half-time to Darren Bent, the former Tottenham striker who chose a move to Sunderland over Stoke in the summer.
Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, felt they were the best chances of the opening 45 minutes, saying: "We knew what to expect from Stoke, but the ball coming into our box is our Achilles heel. It's nothing to do with good play or bad play, and I have to ask whether our players are brave enough.
"I am going to have to address it because it's a big problem and if you struggle with defending set-pieces in the Premier League you come unstuck."
Sunderland defender Danny Collins will next week decide whether to join Stoke after the two clubs agreed a fee.
Bruce added: "It's his call now. He's been a wonderful servant to the club."
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the match: Lawrence
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content