Writer: Ollie Sheehan
Date:Saturday May 6 2006
Sunderland finally and deservedly got that much-sought-after first home win of the season against Fulham on Thursday.
It would be difficult to say too, that Sunderland did not deserve it, after they put in a hungry performance that overawed a lacklustre Fulham that only came alive when they were 2-0 down.
In short Fulham's first half performance was well below par and Sunderland came at them like a dog after a bone.
Both sides contributed to a poor first half, in which the only noteable opening contributions were a 50 yard free-kick from Liam Rosenior which floated unthreateningly wide. George McCartney also attempted a similar free kick, but with the same result.
But from watching the game, it was obvious who was the hungrier, and Sunderland duly took the lead against their opponents, albeit against the run of play.
McCartney fed Welsh down the left touchline, leaving Welsh enough space and time to put in an inviting cross for on-loan Liverpool striker Antony Le Tellac to head home into the bottom right corner.
McCartney and Welsh continued to combine well down the left and cause Fulham problems without really threatening a second goal before Diop struck from long-range sending the ball high into the crowd.
The second half looked much more promising for entertainment value as five minutes in, Tomasz Radzinski rounding Sunderland keeper Kelvin Davis failed to hit the target.
At the other end Justin Hoyte almost unforgivably stood on Nosworthy's bouncing cross rather than head it in with the goal at his mercy when it would have been easier to score.
Shortly after, the home supporters were fuming at ref Mike Riley's decision to only book Ian Pearce after a very aggressive lunge on Brown that should have seen red.
But Brown avenged the challenge in the 57th minute after poor goalkeeping by Mark Crossley let him in for an easy finish to make it 2-0.
That looked to be done and dusted until Tomaz Radzinski cut inside from the right and lashed a shot into the top left corner to set up a tense finish.
But despite all Fulham's pressure and Collins John firing into the side-netting after out-muscling Gary Breen, Sunderland hung on for a deserved first league victory at the Stadium of Light this season.
There are one or two very sore points that Coleman would have regretted as he left the north-east.
The first that this game was being replayed after a waterlogged pitch led to it being abandoned last month with Fulham 1-0 up.
The second that this was supposed to be the game that Fulham might finally have ended their barren league away run this season only for that to happen over the weekend with the 2-1 win over Manchester City.
It would have been nice to finish on a high for Chris Coleman, but there is always Sunday still to come. For Sunderland it was scarce consolation for a miserable season. They will not be relishing playing Championship football next season.
Date:Saturday May 6 2006
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