Sunderland finally won a Premier League home game as goals from Anthony Le Tallec and Chris Brown saw them past a disappointing Fulham at the Stadium of Light this evening.
The relegated Black Cats gave their long-suffering fans something to cheer after meekly succumbing to relegation by totally dominating proceedings against a below-par Fulham, who came nowhere close to the standards Chris Coleman was expecting when he targeted an unbeaten finish to the season.
Fulham had led the initial game through Brian McBride’s header before heavy snow forced a postponement and although Steed Malbranque and Heidar Helguson missed early chances to give the Londoners the lead, it was Sunderland who stormed in front just after the half hour mark. Andy Welsh, recalled from a loan spell at Leicester, whipped in a cross that was guided past Mark Crossley by Le Tallac for the French forward’s fifth of the season.
The hosts doubled their lead twelve minutes after half time when Crossley couldn’t hold a speculative strike from Nyron Nosworthy and Brown forced home his first Sunderland goal from the follow-up. Only a goalline clearance from Ian Pearce prevented Tommy Miller from making it 3-0 as caretaker boss Kevin Ball made the best possible start to a new era on Wearside with talk of a takeover imment.
Sunderland being Sunderland there was a level of anxiety about what seemed a routine win when substitute Tomasz Radzinski lashed past Kelvin Davis to give Fulham a lifeline. Collins John fluffed a great chance to level just two minutes later- shooting into the side netting – and although the goalkeeper juggled a late effort from Wayne Bridge, the Black Cats hold on to claim a home win at last.
SUNDERLAND (5-4-1): Davis; Nosworthy, Breen, Caldwell, McCartney, Hoyte (Kyle 74); Whitehead, Miller, Welsh, Brown; Le Tallec (Daryl Murphy 81). Subs (not used): Alnwick, D. Collins, Leadbitter.
BOOKED: Caldwell, McCartney, Brown, Whitehead.
GOALS: Le Tallec 32, Brown 57.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Crossley; Rosenior, Bridge, Christanval, Pearce (M. Brown 69); Diop, Elliott, Malbranque, Boa Morte (Radzinski 18); McBride (John 60), Helguson. Subs (not used): Warner, Volz.
BOOKED: Elliott (49), Christanval (51), Ian Pearce (56), Wayne Bridge (90)
GOAL: Radzinski (76).
REFEREE: Mike Riley (West Yorkshire).
Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).