Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Sunday October 24 2010
Sunderland have made it seven games unbeaten as they beat Aston Villa 1-0 at the Stadium of Light yesterday.
An unusual Richard Dunne own goal was enough to hand the Black Cats three points and launch Steve Bruce`s side to seventh in the Premier League table.
After an under par performance at Blackburn on Monday, it`s exactly what the Wearside club needed in preparation for the ever important derby next weekend.
illa remain unbeaten at the Stadium of Light and it looked like it could have been one of those days that stat may continue.
Former Middlesbrough youngster Stewart Downing finding space and had his shot rattling the post in the opening five minutes of the game.
Sunderland retaliated, Steed Malbranque`s glancing header narrowly going wide of Brad Friedel`s goal.
Nigel Reo-Coker felt he deserved a penalty after falling under the challenge of Titus Bramble and Lee Cattermole when put through by Heskey.
As time wore on Villa pressed, this time Stephen Ireland had his chance blocked at the last minute thanks to a brilliantly timed Nedum Onuoha challenge.
The Black Cats seemed to have woken up and created the breakthrough on the 25 minute in an unlikely way.
Malbranque managed to get the better of Stiliyan Petrov on the right and gleefully looked on as Dunne accidentally volleyed his right-wing cross past Brad Friedel at the near post.
After the goal it seemed that Sunderland`s confidence rose, Welbeck testing Friedel with a stinger of a shot and Elmohamady maybe could have done better with his header from Phil Bardsley`s inviting cross.
Bruce firmly reiterated that they can`t rely on Darren Bent to score goals and it looked like the message was well received, again Elmohamdy`s dipping shot just fizzing past the post.
Before the break Villa suffered a setback, Petrov forced to come off with a knee injury and was replaced by Steve Sidwell.
In the second half Gerard Houllier`s side came out fighting and all guns blazing as Young was set up by Downing, only for Cattermole's challenge to remove some sting from the shot.
The attacking continued, as Ashley Young was squeezed out of a challenge by Onuoha and Simon Mignolet.
The away side wasted glorious chance when Heskey missed Downing's low cross and Young's follow up fizzed wide.
Mignolet was then called back into action this time pushing Marc Albrighton`s fierce shot away for a corner.
Fans became agitated at Sunderland`s inability to break into their opponents` half grew and grew, but they almost had something to cheer about.
Darren Bent managing to break away on the counter attack but his second touch let him down and Malbranque wide open with space and substitute Asamoah Gyan screwed a shot wide at the death.
Manager Steve Bruce praised his side once again for their brave performance, particularly his defence.
He told BBC Football, 'Seven games unbeaten in the Premier League takes some doing, no matter who you play against, so there is a bit of resilience.
'We invested heavily in the back four and the goalkeeper and when I look behind me and I have got four people who played in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and I have got Britain's most expensive goalkeeper sitting behind me too.
'We have got a really good look about us, so I am pleased. There's a resilience about us, which was the first thing I wanted to try to address when we came here.'
Date:Sunday October 24 2010
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