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
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor