Tigers continue downward spiral

Sunderland 1 Hull City 0

From the lower section of the main stand at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, it was difficult to follow the action at times. The eye was inevitably drawn to the black-suited figure on the touchline performing 90 minutes of histrionics. The manager of the Tigers was like Tigger on speed as he jumped, gyrated, gesticulated, screamed and whistled at every kick on the field.

"Brown, you're a disgrace to South Shields," one member of the audience felt moved to bellow as the fourth official ushered Phil Brown fleetingly back towards the dugout for vehemently disputing a decision which the monitor in the press box showed was clearly a free-kick to Sunderland.

South Shields is perhaps best known as the hometown of the late Catherine Cookson, that prolific purveyor of romantic fiction. There was precious little love in the air as Brown, a son of the South Tyneside town, and also a boyhood Sunderland fan, revisited his North-east roots. As the Hull City manager himself observed in the press room afterwards: "I seemed to be picking one or two fights today. Am I safe going out tonight?"

The more pertinent question is whether Brown's Hull side are safe going out on Premier League duty in their remaining five fixtures – starting with Liverpool at home next Saturday and finishing with Manchester United at the KC Stadium on 24 May – now that only Blackburn Rovers and goals scored stand between the Tigers and the clutches of the bottom three. Their downward spiral continued on Saturday with a fourth defeat in five games, courtesy of a Djibril Cissé header from a flicked-on Andy Reid cross two minutes into first-half injury time.

According to the Sunderland manager, Ricky Sbragia, the catalyst for a vital victory that moved his side a place and a point above Hull, was not so much the Black Cats' own imperilled position as a piece of unwitting inspiration from Brown. The Scot had been so enraged by a morning newspaper interview with Brown he stuck it on the dressing-room wall. "Phil said something about Sunderland Football Club, how the players have underachieved," Sbragia said. "It annoyed me and it motivated the players."

It transpired that the substance of Brown's supposed attack amounted to little more than a statement of the obvious, an observation that "Sunderland are in a predicament that they won't have been expecting, having spent the money that they did".

Still, dressed up with a headline screaming "Black Cats a spent force," it did the trick for Sunderland. Victorious for the first time in eight matches, and blessed with a less daunting run-in than either Hull or Middlesbrough, they will probably be spending a penny or two in the Premier League next season.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Bardsley, Davenport, Ferdinand, Collins; Edwards (Malbranque, 78), Leadbitter, Tainio, Reid (Richardson, 76); Cissé (Murphy, 90), Jones. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Ben-Haim, Yorke, McShane.

Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; Ricketts, Turner, Zayatte, Dawson; Geovanni (Mendy, 74), Kilbane, Boateng (Barmby, 77), Marney (Folan, 68); Manucho, Fagan. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Doyle, Halmosi, Cousin.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Sunderland Cissé, Richardson; Hull City Turner, Kilbane, Fagan.

Man of the match: Leadbitter.

Attendance: 42,855.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot