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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
and  

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam