Promotion in Sunderland sights

Sunderland 3 Birmingham City 0

JOHN DOUGRAY

Sunderland 3 Birmingham City 0

Sunderland virtually guaranteed themselves a Premiership place next season with this convincing victory over Birmingham City, whose inept performance surely put paid to their last, lingering hope of finding a place in the play-offs.

Sunderland's eagerness to strike an early blow resulted in an injury to Craig Russell, who tumbled over the City keeper and Michael Johnson and stayed off the field briefly for treatment to his leg. It was City, however, who were soon in need of treatment - for shock.

After 17 minutes, Sunderland took the lead with a superb goal from Michael Gray, who accepted a short pass from Paul Stewart to beat Bart Greimink in the City goal with a vicious drive into the top corner from 25 yards.

Greimink was soon picking the ball out of the net again. Sunderland were awarded a free-kick when Gary Poole pushed Gray off the ball. Martin Scott swung the ball over to the far post where Stewart rose to head home firmly for his first goal for Sunderland since joining them on a free transfer from Liverpool.

Stewart should have put Sunderland three up when a low, awkward cross from Gray reached him at the far post, but his attempt to side-foot the ball home was eagerly seized on by Griemink.

Towards the interval City launched some counter-attacks only to find that Sunderland could retreat almost as quickly as they attacked, and City were reduced to long-range, inaccurate efforts.

City's manager, Barry Fry, clearly unimpressed by his side's first-half performance, replaced three of them at the interval. Johnson, Paul Devlin and Andy Legg did not reappear. Their places were taken by Jonathan Hunt, Kevin Francis and Paul Peschisolido.

For Fry, who has used more than 50 players in League games this season, such wholesale substitutions were not a novelty, but it must surely lead City followers to question his managerial style.

Paul Barnes was probably still feeling somewhat confused by the new arrangements. Faced with only the keeper to beat early in the half, he took so long to make up his mind, he was dispossessed by Darius Kubicki at the expense of a corner.

Sunderland tightened their grip after this escape and with an hour gone made City's task virtually impossible. A mistake in the centre circle by Andy Edwards enabled Stewart to roll the ball into the path of Russell, who ran to the edge of the area to deceive the advancing goalkeeper.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Kubicki, Melville, Ord, Scott; Agnew, Bracewell, Ball, Gray; Russell, Stewart. Substitutes not used: Hall, Bridges, Howey.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Greimink; Poole, Edwards, Breen, Johnson (Hunt, h-t); Tait, Conforth, Legg (Peschisolido h-t), Grainger; Devlin (Francis, h-t), Barnes.

Referee: T West (Hull).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links