O’Shea grabs unlikely point

Ten-man Sunderland drew 1-1 with Stoke City at the Stadium of
Light in the Premier League on Monday.

Jonathan Walters fired the visitors ahead after nine minutes
from a corner and Sunderland’s task was made all the more difficult
when Craig Gardner was sent off on 34 minutes for a late challenge
on Charlie Adam.

In the end Stoke’s numerical advantage did not matter as the
home side rescued an unlikely point thanks to a goal by defender
John O’Shea on 63 minutes.

The clash came a day after the 40th anniversary of Sunderland’s
famous FA Cup final win over Leeds United, and manager Paolo Di
Canio managed to get a champions’ type response in the second half
from the current crop of Sunderland players.

After Walters’ goal in the opening period Stoke managed to
restrict Sunderland to long-range attempts and, when Gardner saw
red, it looked like the home side could be on the end of another
hammering after last week’s 6-1 thrashing at Aston Villa.

But, somehow Sunderland responded and Adam Johnson’s near miss
ten minutes after the break set the ball rolling.

As Sunderland pressed on it did allow Stoke a rare attack and
Cameron Jerome went close after combining well with Adam.

Sunderland started to get some joy from set-pieces though and
O’Shea was unfortunate to see his attempt cleared off the line.

If that was a warning then the hammer blow was delivered minutes
later. Sebastian Larsson delivered the corner from the left, Ryan
Shawcross failed to react and O’Shea prodded home.

It was a fitting reward for the Irishman who defended
excellently especially when his side were reduced to ten men.

Remarkably Sunderland could have snatched an unlikely winner but
Danny Rose’s shot clipped the outside rather than the inside of the
post during the closing stages.

The result means Sunderland climb to 15th on 38 points, while
Stoke, who also moved a point closer to safety, reach the 41-point
mark in 11th in the Premier League table.

Di Canio was delighted with his team’s
second-half performance
and felt that Sunderland fully deserved
to take a point.

“I saw the team I wanted to see with shape and character,” he
told Sky Sports. “There was only one side in the second half, but
we must stop the yellow and red cards.

“We had to keep the shape and use the wide areas better and move
Stoke around. Also, with our desire and at home we tried to stay in
the game and create chances and in the end the desire and effort
helped and the point will be crucial to us.”

Di Canio’s Stoke counterpart
Tony Pulis was equally satisfied to come
away a draw, saying: “It was a hard-earned point and we knew it was
going to be.

“When the sending off happened, we had a couple of players
booked and coming in at half-time, they were a bit nervous as
anything could have seen them leave the pitch.

“I’ve got to give Sunderland a lot of credit, they showed a lot
of spirit and togetherness, so I’m pleased we got the point.”