Lift-off for Sunderland as Steven Fletcher and James McClean provide welcome spark against Reading

Sunderland 3 Reading 0

The Stadium of Light

Relief. One year and nine days into the tenure of a Premier League manager. One year to the day since his first game in charge and the emotion was huge. Martin O'Neill needed a victory. He got one last night. He got a show of support from the Sunderland owner, Ellis Short. The pockets of play in which his team has looked like one were extended to the length of a game and with that came three points and a huge sigh from supporters who have not turned on O'Neill and have not wanted to either.

How significant the applause which followed Sunderland off the field on Saturday, after they had again been defeated, by Chelsea. Belief. It does no harm to a manager fighting for the opportunity to manage. O'Neill signed two players for significant fees in the summer. Steven Fletcher scored another excellent goal last night, after James McClean had given Sunderland a third-minute lead. Adam Johnson, before he limped off, again showed improvement. Danny Rose, the full-back signed on loan from Spurs in the summer, was once more excellent. It is why O'Neill keeps asking for time.

"There is pressure on everyone. You know that. We have to keep going. This is the results business. The boys have given everything, I don't fear anything. I've been in football 30-odd years." They were the words of the Reading manager, Brian McDermott. The spotlight will blind him now, seven months after promotion. Football, it is a game of short memories these days.

For O'Neill, came the contrast. "I'm delighted to have won, naturally," he said. "The sense of relief, too. It was good, good to win the game. We got off to a great start. We've been chasing games here at the Stadium of Light and giving teams big starts and trying to get back into the game. The first goal was very important. There was no time for nerves to build up. It took anxiety out of the crowd.

"You can talk until you're blue in the face. It's a great old feeling. We have some tough times ahead. The win might have lifted us a couple of places. We have to try and see it through. That was a boost for us tonight. The spirit of the side is still strong. I want to try with all my might to put a team together, that not only can compete, but they will look forward to seeing the team play," O'Neill added.

For McDermott these appear dangerous times. He spoke of Danny Guthrie not travelling because his head was not right. He called for there to be investment during the January transfer window.

"The club made a decision and we didn't invest in the summer," he said. "We all know January is a difficult window. It is down to the owner to see where we're at. I think we need to be there. Danny Guthrie made a decision his head wasn't right to travel.

"Everyone has to be going in the same direction. You have to put yourself up for selection."

On last night's showing, investment looks a good idea. Sunderland could have won by more. McClean's shot was low and painful for the visitors. Fletcher's flick was clever, with his left foot when he was facing away from goal and, in injury time, Stéphane Sessègnon added the third.

Short had walked through the media room before the game, his support for O'Neill unwavering. "I would like to do well for him as well," said O'Neill.

Man of the match Rose.

Match rating 5/10.

Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Attendance 37,723.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us