Sunderland lose - to weather this time

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The Independent Football

The team that couldn't win at home met the team that couldn't win away and the weather was declared the winner. The referee, Mike Riley, bowed to a snowstorm after 20 minutes and abandoned the match with Fulham a goal ahead.

"We thought we would get the game started, but the ball wasn't rolling and the players were sliding and couldn't keep their footing and the likelihood was that someone would get injured," said Riley.

The weather seemed determined that yesterday's game should not begin, firing a fusillade of hailstones followed by a torrent of rain from an Armageddon-dark sky 45-minutes before kick-off.

When the resultant puddles failed to deter Riley, the weather tried to draw a not-so-discrete veil over the proceedings, dropping a curtain of heavy, wet snow so thick it was nigh impossible to see across the pitch. "Welcome to spring in the North-east," said the announcer before running through the teams. The Black Cats' mascot turned white, the ball went yellow and the match kicked off.

Fulham kept their feet well enough in the ninth minute to pass neatly through the blizzard until Brian McBride turned the ball into the net. But Rory Delap was already injured, clutching a badly bleeding nose after a collision with what appeared to be his team-mate George McCartney, although the flakes were so large, identification was tricky. "That might have happened on a Sunday in August," said Riley.

In the 14th minute, he sent the fourth official for a forecast and he returned saying more snow and rain ahead, and so he called a halt.