McCarthy keeps feet firmly on ground

Sunderland 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
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The Independent Football

It could have been the vice president of Wolverhampton Wanderers rather than the manager holding court in a corridor of Sunderland's home ground in the aftermath of Saturday's vital victory for the Black Country club. "Good times, bad times; you know I've had my share..." That was the theme of Mick McCarthy's post-match crack while Robert Plant was elsewhere in the Stadium of Light, savouring a result that put his beloved Wolves on course for a celebration at Molineux next Sunday.

McCarthy was more than a little peeved that the North-east press pack was showing a greater preoccupation with the fact that he had never won a Premier League fixture at the Stadium of Light in his time in charge of Sunderland – and also with the presence of Plant, Led Zeppelin's frontman, in the directors' box – than with the plucky performance that kept his team a point clear of the top-flight relegation zone ahead of their last day fixture at home to Blackburn.

"I don't bother with all that bullshit," McCarthy said. "I really don't, because everyone's got a stat or an angle, whether it's Robert Plant of the fact that I'd never won a Premier League game here. I had the best time here. I won loads of games. I won the Championship title here, got to the play-offs, got into the Premier League without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, and then I was given even less again. But I loved it. When I left I went with my head held up."

Outplayed in the opening quarter, McCarthy's men took the lead in the 23rd minute, Stephen Hunt crossing from the left and Jody Craddock, the former Sunderland central defender, crashing home a right foot volley. They were pegged back by Stéphane Sessègnon's acrobatic equaliser 11 minutes later but had the attacking momentum with them once Matt Jarvis was released from bench duty at the start of the second half.

The England winger delivered the cross from which Steven Fletcher headed Wolves back in front nine minutes into the second half and then George Elokobi's stooping header 12 minutes from time wrapped up the three points.

"I said it would go to 22 May," McCarthy said, looking ahead to denouement day. "We've just got to win our game. If we do that, nobody else can do anything about it."

Scorers: Sunderland Sessègnon 34 Wolves Craddock 22, Fletcher 54, Elokobi 78.

Substitutes: Sunderland R Noble (Malbranque, 70), Lynch (Henderson, 76), Laing (Mensah, 87).

Wolves Jarvis (Guedioura, h-t), Doyle (Fletcher, 71). Booked None. Man of the match O'Hara.

Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Sunderland 48% Wolves 52%. Attempts on target: Sunderland 9 Wolves 6. Referee M Jones (Cheshire).

Attendance 41,273.