Sunderland 0 Blackburn Rovers 1: Reid prevents Hughes working up sweat over Sunderland

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Blackburn continue their march towards Europe while Sunderland continue their march towards the Championship. And although there was only a goal's difference between the two sides on Saturday, Rovers were never troubled.

Steven Reid's 15th-minute goal, which came after he had run unchecked from the halfway line, proved to be the winner, and although the Black Cats - still without a home victory in the League after 16 attempts this season - showed maximum guts, they displayed minimal quality. As an example of their plight, the former Rovers striker Jon Stead has now gone 29 matches without a goal. That fact makes visitors nervous.

"There's a feeling between a lot of managers that when you come to Sunderland, that at some point, they will win a home game this year," Rovers' manager, Mark Hughes, said. "You always worry it's going to be against you, so we are delighted to have got this fixture out of the way."

Blackburn never really had to get out of second gear in front of a crowd which seemed ready to answer a fresh call to arms to protest against the club chairman, Bob Murray, and his board. Murray had reiterated his willingness during the week to hand over control of the club if a buyer can be found but investors are not exactly forming an orderly queue.

An announcement made on police advice towards the end of the game warned that the Murray Gates, the scene of a demonstration after the home defeat by Wigan a fortnight ago, would be cordoned off. That received a furious reaction from the stands, and hundreds of spectators made their way to the area after the final whistle. Some of them tried to break through the police cordon and were led away.

The writing has been on the wall for Sunderland for so long it is starting to fade, and the ease with which Reid strolled through the massed ranks was alarming. "At times, you analyse goals and how they can be prevented," the Sunderland caretaker manager, Kevin Ball, said.

"I've already seen it on the DVD downstairs and I'll have another look at it and we will deal with it on Monday. It's important we look at things, make people aware of responsibilities and then after that, move on." Move on to the Championship, that is.

Goal: Reid (15) 0-1.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Davis; Hoyte, Caldwell (Breen, 64), D Collins, McCartney; Whitehead, Leadbitter, Delap (Lawrence, 73), Arca; Brown, Stead (Kyle, 66). Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), D Murphy.

Blackburn (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Nelsen, Khizanishvili, Gray; Emerton (Bentley, 64), Tugay (Mokoena, 64), Reid, Pedersen; Bellamy (Kuqi, 70), Dickov. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Todd.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Sunderland Arca, Hoyte, Leadbitter, Whitehead; Blackburn Gray.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 29,593.