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By Sam Lyon
1835: And with that I bid you adieu for the penultimate time. A stonking day of Premier League football, one we can only hope is matched or bettered in tomorrow night's pealer between
Chelsea and Manchester City.
Not a bad game for me to sign off on, huh? Why not come and join me for my commentary farewell tomorrow night, then, and what promises to be a super match between two of the league's high flyers. I can't wait. Until then...
James Ronnie on Twitter:
"Stop moaning about the descisions against Spurs and spare a though for Steve Kean and Blackburn for the disallowed goal! Robbed."
Spencer, Birmingham fan in Bedford, via text: "The referee was poor - the same as Spurs defending for the goals, maybe we should blame Chris Foy for that as well."
Sam Hepher on Twitter:
"Yes the ref was attrocious, but c'est la vie. We're still in third, two points ahead of Arsenal with a game in hand."
STOKE 2-1 TOTTENHAM David Ornstein
reports: "Stoke's first-half shock and awe tactics leave Tottenham reeling and, despite a second-half turnaround, it's too little, too late. Spurs sample the rare taste of defeat - but they can rightly be aggrieved with referee Chris Foy."
SUNDERLAND 2-1 BLACKBURN Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports from the Stadium of Light: "Martin O'Neill looked on to a loser for so long today - and then persistence and pressure was rewarded. He was ecstatic on the touchline while his opposite number Steve Kean looked devastated."
1825: So, I think it's clear what you lot made of today's action then. But what did our reporters think of things?
1822: Stoke boss Tony Pulis: "Let's not talk about the referee, let's talk about the football. We got a little bit of luck but you can't fault our players, they really deserved their luck. It was a cracking game for everyone to watch. We came off on the right end of it [the luck] but other weeks it's gone against us. We've played Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea and now Tottenham at home this season and we're unbeaten. It helps when you have a crowd like we have."
SteveK, Swindon via text: "Foy should be getting plaudits. Judging by the comments so far he has united fans from Arsenal, Stoke, West Ham, Chelsea......."
Dwayne Bennett on Twitter:
"Arsenal fan here and even I felt aggrieved for Spurs on that atrocious ref performance. Worst I've seen in some time."
1815: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp: "I'm not sure how we've lost that. A couple of decisions from the referee were amazing. I've just seen the replays. How the referee gives Adebayor offside, when he is two yards onside, I don't know. How he doesn't see the handballs I don't know. I wouldn't want to comment on what I thought of the referee's performance. I never do it, having been a manager for 20-odd years. But today was... disappointing."
Dan Sattary-Javid on Twitter:
"Would everyone stop complaining! There have been many more refereeing performances this season which have been MUCH worse!"
Kidsgrove Kev via text: "Stop your whining Spurs fans, remember the Crouch handball on the line last season? Payback."
HM on Twitter:
"As an Arsenal fan I would like to lead the plaudits for the Chris Foy. Top performance from a top bloke."
1810: Stoke striker and man-of-the-match Peter Crouch: "It was a massive result. Against a team that have been on fire, we've got to take heart from that. We showed what we're all about. Everyone put a shift in and we defended from the front. The result's sweeter because it's my old club. I didn't think the ball struck my arm in the build-up to the goal. It was unintentional if it did."
1808: A summary of the controversial incidents in that match, then; Peter Crouch's 'handball' in the opening goal, Luka Modric's penalty given, a 'foul' on Younes Kaboul not given, 'handball' from Jermain Defoe's shot not given, Emmanuel Adebayor's pefectly good goal ruled out, Younes Kaboul's red card... have I missed any?
1805: Where does that the Premier League table then? Well Stoke are up to eighth with a hard-earned three points, while Tottenham stay in third but miss the chance to re-close the gap on Manchester United in second spot.
1800: I have a feeling a few of may want to lend your thoughts on that match. And I imagine referee Chris Foy might be the first topic on most people's lips. So tweet the commentary via
or text in via 81111 (UK). Jubbly.
1754: Chris Foy - who I suspect might just get a hammering from some quarters after this game - has just given a foul throw against Tottenham's Giovani dos Santos. I doubt he is a very popular man in Tottenham today.
1752: But Stoke are retaining possession well here.
1750: We'll have FIVE minutes of stoppage time.
1748: Kitchen sink time from Tottenham as Giovani dos Santos comes on to replace Rafael van der Vaart. Two minutes of normal time remaining. Meanwhile, Wilson Palacios replaces Matthew Etherington for Stoke.
1745: And the same combination almost works moments later, this time Ryan Shawcross nodding the corner on to the crossbar and away. What a game this is.
1744: Save! Stoke threaten for the first time a while and Ryan Shawcross almosts restores Stoke's two-goal lead with a fine header from a corner - only for Brad Friedel to tip it over.
Tottenham red card: Yep, definitely not Tottenham's day. Younes Kaboul, on a booking for dissent earlier, gets a second yellow card for a foul on Jon Walters. Referee Chris Foy has managed to upset every fan of both sides today. Impressive.
1742: RED CARD, Younes Kaboul, TOTTENHAM
h_aljumah on Twitter:
"Goals, great saves, controversy. Breathless. Every game in the Premier League is a Clasico."
1740: This is just wave after wave of Tottenham attacks here. Chance after chance. But still Stoke lead.
VChandrasekha on Twitter:
"Very, very bad ref decisions today Adebayor was onside and Spurs could have another penalty and Stoke could be down to ten men."
1738: This game is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
1737: It's all Tottenham - as it was when Stoke grabbed their second - and Jermain Defoe screams for a second penalty as he turns Scott Parker's cross goalwards, but again Chris Foy is unmoved. Replays suggest absolutely rightly so.
1735: And then, in the aftermath, Emmanuel Adebayor slips in the loose ball only to be ruled offside - when replays show he was clearly onside. Not Tottenham's day?
1734: Off the line! Younes Kaboul, following up Kyle Walker's cross, crashes goalwards and its cleared off the line... by Ryan Shawcross's arm. Wow.
1734: Save! Luka Modric has been excellent for Tottenham today and he almost levels it up with a deflected long-ranger - but Thomas Sorensen tips it around the post again.
1731: Twenty minutes left and I fancy a grandstand finish. You?
1729: ...but Marc Wilson's crashing effort hits the wall and flies away for a corner.
1728: But Stoke have a free-kick, 25 yards out and a real chance for a shot on goal now...
1726: Close again! Emmanuel Adebayor opening his body and curling inches wide. Spurs building a real head of steam here.
1726: Is that a penalty? Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul goes down under Ryan Shawcross's challenge from a corner - but referee Chris Foy is unmoved this time. Replays suggest that could have been given, too.
1725: Save! Excellent move from Tottenham, working it across the Stoke box before Scott Parker drives a fine effort totwards the top corner - tipped over the bar by Thomas Sorensen.
1724: Some Stoke fans are convinced that was a Luka Modric dive by the look of things and the atmosphere in the Britannia is hot. For me, it was a stonewall penalty.
Tottenham goal: Oh ho - it's game on now. Luka Modric earns a clear penalty with a jinking run that is only ended by Glenn Whelan's outstretched leg - and up steps Emmanuel Adebayor to convert from the spot. Half hour remaining.
1722: GOALFLASH Stoke 2-1 Tottenham (Adebayor pen)
1722: PENALTY TO TOTTENHAM
1721: Close! Kyle Walker's brilliant cross is deflected past his own post by Jonathan Woodgate.
1720: But that's better - Gareth Bale ghosting past Jonathan Woodgate down the left and then forcing a fine Ryan Shawcross clearance with a good cross.
1719: Tottenham are almost totally bossing possession at the Britannia, but with Stoke defending deep they're relatively comfortable so far the hosts. Spurs still lacking a spark.
1715: Ryan Shotton, who has also been decent with the ball at his feet, continues to trouble Tottenham with his long throws, even with their revamped and heightened backline.
1712: Oh that is a great chance - wasted. Luka Modric's corner finds Sebastien Bassong completely unmarked 12 yards out in the Stoke box, but he heads well over. Let-off.
1710: Tottenham camped in their own half at the moment with Stoke piling men - and the ball - forward. Impressive from the hosts.
1708: ...scrambled clear - just about - by the new-look Tottenham backline.
1708: Stoke on the front foot again - just as in the first half - and they have themselves a corner...
1706: Looks like Tottenham have gone three at the back with Kyle Walker and Gareth Bale playing as wing-backs. Interesting.
1705: Back up and running at the Britannia. Stoke 2-0 Tottenham.
1704: A couple of Tottenham changes at half time - Jermain Defoe, making his 450th club appearance, and Sebastien Bassong on for Aaron Lennon and Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Aggressive changes.
1703: The Stoke players are out. The Tottenham players are not. Hairdryer treatement in the dressing room?
Graham Holden on Twitter:
"Scott Parker has probably had his worst 45 minutes for Spurs and without his presence they look a shadow of their recent selves."
Steve via text: "This is painful, Spurs didn't turn up for the first half hour, and when they did they concede another sloppy, sloppy goal. Frustrating 45 on the way!"
Blackburn manager Steve Kean: "Defeat is a tough one to take. We feel we had a good goal ruled out for whatever reason for a foul against Chris Samba when goalkeeper Kieran Westwood bumped into him. We thought we could hang in there and get at least a point - to get nothing we are very disappointed."
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill: "I thought the players were terrific today. They kept at it, which was important. Falling behind didn't affect them. But, with 10 minutes to go, you wonder if we're going to get a goal. I would have taken a point then. You could hear the roar for the equaliser and, when the winning goal went in, it was just stunning."
Shropshire Spurs fan via text: "It's just not fair that boring, ugly football can yield results against Spurs' delightful style of play. Bitter much??"
Patrick Hillyer on Twitter:
"Are Spurs playing Stoke Rugby Club? All men behind the ball, scoring from throwing it, and now a rendition of swing low..."
1650: HALF-TIME Stoke 2-0 Tottenham David Ornstein's
HT snap-shot: "Two Ryan Shotton deliveries, two Matthew Etherington goals. Simple but effective. Stoke good value for their lead; Spurs half asleep."
1648: There's the half-time whistle - oh to be a fly on the wall of Harry Redknapp's dressing room right now.
1645: Mountain to climb for Spurs now. Stoke on cloud nine.
Stoke goal: And right against the run of play, Stoke double their lead. Another Ryan Shotton long throw causes havoc in the Tottenham box and Jon Walters's flick-on is bundled in at the back post by Matthew Etherington.
1643: GOALFLASH Stoke 2-0 Tottenham (Etherington)
1643: But here comes another Ryan Shotton long throw...
1641: He's been poor all half, but that's great work from Emmanuel Adebayor to turn his man before firing in a shot from the edge of the area - Thomas Sorensen again down well to save. How valuable a goal would be for Spurs before half time.
1638: The change in this game has come almost as a direct result of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale switching wings. Lennon is giving Jonathan Woodgate a torrid time. Stoke with all 11 players behind the ball at the moment.
1636: Tottenham still knocking it about well here - and Jonathan Woodgate, on a booking, is very fortunate his foul on Scott Parker on the edge of the area goes unpunished.
Footy Latest on Twitter:
"Tottenham starting to get the upper hand. Stoke need to be careful or they will end up wasting a great opportunity."
1632: What a save! Luka Modric pings a pearler of an effort in from range but Thomas Sorensen is down brilliantly to tip around the post. Super stop.
1631: Good spell for Spurs, this, and Rafael van der Vaart's fine corner causes the odd heart palpitation in the Stoke box before the hosts clear.
1630: Booking for Jonathan Woodgate for a late challenge on Aaron Lennon. Deserved - and a worry for the full-back now, on a booking against Lennon and/or Gareth Bale.
1628: Better from Tottenham, much better, the visitors finally putting their foot on the ball and building with patience against a deep-lying Stoke defence. Emmanuel Adebayor's poor touch ends a promising move, but it only sparks another spell of Tottenham possession... encouraging for the visitors.
1626: Stoke corner, Robert Huth rising highest, headed over.
1624: We're 24 minutes in and Tottenham have just managed their first shot on goal - Rafael van der Vaart's tame effort from range easily saved low down by Thomas Sorensen.
1622: ...but for the first time in the match Tottenham are able to clear semi-convincingly and no chance is forthcoming.
1622: Another Ryan Shotton long throw opportunity...
1620: Another replay of that Stoke goal - and it looks like Peter Crouch probably did handle the ball before squaring for Matthew Etherington actually. Hhmm.
Opta Sports on Twitter:
"Matthew Etherington has now scored three Premier League goals against Tottenham, more than against any other side. Reminder."
1617: There will be a lot of chat about Tottenham failing to live up to expectations here, but all credit has to go to Stoke who have been magnificent from the off. At present, there is only one winner in this game.
1615: There were some muted appeals for handball against Peter Crouch in the build-up to that goal... but referee Chris Foy was unmoved. The replays were unclear but benefit of the doubt to the attacking side, I would've thought.
Stoke goal: It's been coming. Peter Crouch is key for Stoke here, collecting Jon Walters's flick and turning it back goalwards from the byeline for Matthew Etherington to slam home against his former club eight yards out.
1613: GOALFLASH Stoke 1-0 Tottenham (Etherington)
1611: For the first time in the match, Tottenham open their legs - Gareth Bale surging down the left from Rafael van der Vaart's pass and looking to find Aaron Lennon with his cross, Ryan Shawcross sliding in well to cut the ball out.
1609: Another long Ryan Shotton throw... Peter Crouch wins it in the air again... and Kyle Walker does well to head behind with Ryan Shawcross challenging.
1608: Matthew Etherington from range... held easily by Brad Friedel. Stoke bang on top.
1607: It's a high defensive line in play from Stoke, obviously looking to squeeze the Tottenham midfield - but with the visitors' pace is that a wise ploy?
1605: Tottenham are a touch rattled here, mis-placing passes and being hurried by Stoke's hussling approach. And a Benoit Assou-Ekotto mistake lets in Ryan Shotton here and the Stoke man gets a run on goal before firing wide from the angle.
1602: Stoke have absolutely flown out of the traps here. Lightning start from the hosts.
1601: ...and after 37 seconds it takes a fabulous save from Brad Friedel to deny Matthew Etherington the opener, the American getting down to tip the Stoke winger's effort around the post brilliantly after Benoit Assou-Ekotto had only half-cleared Ryan Shotton's long throw.
1558: Here come the players, with many calling this the game for Tottenham to either underline their title credentials or slip-up and fall by the wayside. Stoke will surely fancy their chances of upsetting the apple cart. Where's ya money?
1552 STOKE v TOTTENHAM (1600) David Ornstein
reports: "Stoke boss Tony Pulis feels this will be 'one of the toughest games of the season for us' against an 'absolutely outstanding' Spurs team who are 'the only side really competing with the Manchester clubs for the title'. Tottenham counterpart and good friend Harry Redknapp says: 'You never get an easy game at Stoke and we'll have to be prepared for them. If we go and play our game, we'll have a good chance.' Love-in."
ShayChopra94 on Twitter:
"Can see it being a long afternoon with the Potters, especially with VDV back and Bale on form."
Gaz in Elgin via text: "RE:1542- many people havent heard of Sheringham but I once bought a teddy there."
James Browning on Twitter:
"Tottenham squad looks better in every area today... In other countries, they'd run away with the title!"
1546: STOKE v TOTTENHAM (1600) David Ornstein
reports: "It's a meeting of Tottenham boys old and new as Stoke - with four ex-Spurs players in their squad - host the White Hart Lane high-flyers. Tony Pulis will hope such inside knowledge helps his side, who are back in the top 10 after a couple of timely victories. However, today's opponents have won on their last two top-flight trips to the Britannia and will be looking for a seventh straight league win for the first time since May 1967."
1545: But now let's focus on Stoke v Tottenham...
The_AntiFonz on Twitter:
"I largely agree with Mr. Owen, but if you're going to sit back for 45 on a 1-0 lead, you deserve to lose. Serie A this is not."
1544: A quick word from Sunderland match-winners David Vaughan and Sebastian Larsson: "The confidence was a little bit low, as you'd expect with where we are in the league, but hopefully we can get on a good run now," said Vaughan, with Larsson adding: "[Martin O'Neill] told us he believes in us. This will do the world of good for us. We needed this kind of win and we deserved it."
henry_tg on Twitter:
"Defoe is THE most underrated football player in the world. He scores every time he plays but he always seems to be on the bench."
Darren in Sheringham, via text: "If Kean is not sacked then the owners need to explain to fans the vision for the club, as this idiot is taking us down."
SamRogers789 on Twitter:
"Football's certainly missed Martin O'Neill celebrating like that on the touchline. It's been 16 months too long."
1539: STOKE v TOTTENHAM (1600) David Ornstein
reports: "Stoke name an unchanged side from that which started the 1-0 win at Everton, meaning Peter Crouch, Matthew Etherington and Jonathan Woodgate start against their former club but Jermaine Pennant and Rory Delap miss out with minor injuries. Just the one alteration for Tottenham following their victory over Bolton as Rafael van der Vaart comes in for Jermain Defoe."
1534: So Sunderland jump out of the drop zone and up to 16th on the back of a remarkable turn-around win. Blackburn, however, remain second from bottom and looking perilously like relegation material. The highs and lows of football.
1529: We're into the 100th minute as Jason Lowe, head heavily strapped, is carried off the field. Warm, sympathetic applause from the crowd.
1528: He's still receiving treatment on the field as it happens, Jason Lowe. It does not look good. Fingers crossed for the lad.
1526: A bad day is going to get worse for Blackburn with Jason Lowe having to be stretchered off with what looks a bad injury following a collision with Sebastian Larsson.
Pat Nevin on BBC Five Live at the Stadium of Light: "Blackburn's tactics were ultra-negative and it was a certainty something would happen. Martin O'Neill bringing on McLean was a big change."
1523: The Stadium of Light is rocking. It's been so, so sneaky in the end - but Sunderland fans care not a jot. Welcome back Martin O'Neill.
Sunderland goal: Winner. He missed a crucial penalty against Wolves last week but Sebastian Larsson has made full amends and more now, curling home an absolute doozy of a free-kick to break Blackburn hearts two minutes into stoppage time. Cue that Irish jig.
1521: And Sunderland have a free-kick 20 yards out with Sebastian Larsson surely fancying a pop here...
1519: We'll have three added minutes.
1518: Chris Samba has been immense for Blackburn today, he has swept up everything in the visitors' box. Two minutes of normal time remaining.
1516: Sunderland sniff a winner here, they're driving forward at every opportunity.
1515: TEAM NEWS SNAP Stoke are unchanged from the side that won at Everton. One alteration for Tottenham from the win against Bolton as Rafael van der Vaart comes in for Jermain Defoe.
Pat Nevin on BBC Five Live at the Stadium of Light: "A fantastic strike, brilliant. But Blackburn have played so defensively - as defensive as you'll see this season."
Sunderland goal: Bosh! Finally reward for all their possession, Sunderland level through a David Vaughan piledriver from 25 yards that was past Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson before he even moved. Cracking strike.
1512: Kieran Richardson has a pop with a 25-yard free-kick... flayed well wide. Sunderland running out of time.
1510: Corner to Sunderland...
1508: Golly, Sunderland have sparked again since those changes and James McClean is at the heart of it. Another bustling foray forward ends with an overhead attempt at goal from Stephane Sessegnon, but it was always too high.
1506: Close! Almost an immediate impact from James McClean, the winger sending in a beauty of a cross from the left that falls to Sebastian Larsson, who draws a fine save again at his near post from Paul Robinson.
1505: Double Sunderland change - James McClean and Dong-Won Ji on for Jack Colback and Connor Wickham.
1503: Blackburn have set up base camp inside their own area now. Yakubu is taking the opportunity to catch up on Titus Bramble's health and happiness over a nice chat on the halfway line. Those two might as well pull out a blanket and catch the breeze over a picnic or something.
1501: Low 20-yard effort from Jack Colback, wide of the Blackburn goal.
1459: Into the last 20 minutes at the Stadium of Light, still Sunderland 0-1 Blackburn.
1457: Blackburn continuing to hunt in packs defensively here, which is impressive. It does mean Sunderland have enjoyed 75% of possession in the last 10 minutes, though. Can the visitors continue to hold strong?
1454: Ooh that's another cracking save from Paul Robinson. Kieran Richardson drills an effort goalwards and it takes a big deflection off Morten Gamst Pedersen, but Robinson reacts brilliantly to change direction and tip the effort around the post. Sunderland getting closer.
1451: Boom! David Dunn takes aim from range for Blackburn and catches his shot nice and sweet - but it's a touch too high and it zips over the Sunderland bar.
1450: Another booking - which adds a nice bit of colour to the page - as Stephane Sessegnon has his name taken for repeated fouling.
1448: We're not even up to the hour mark yet and Blackburn are already retreating ever deeper in the face of this Sunderland pressure. Yakubu is all alone up front for the visitors and by a long way, too.
Pat Nevin on 5 Live at the Stadium of Light: "We've been talking about boxing - and Sunderland are punchless. They've got nothing up front at the moment. This is nothing against Martin O'Neill - but he's got a lot of work to do at Sunderland."
1442: Woodwork! Kieran Richardson almost scores from the unlikeliest of angles as his awful corner kick is somehow allowed to drift past a few defenders before it clatters into the near post.
1440: A third and final Blackburn change now - again enforced - as Michel Salgado goes off having failed to recover from his earlier clash with Phil Bardsley (get in), Grant Hanley on in his place. It means Jason Lowe will push up into midfield.
1439: ...curled narrowly - and I mean narrowly - wide with Paul Robinson scrambling across goal. Close.
1439: Free-kick to Sunderland, 35 yards out, Sebastian Larsson over it...
1438: Just as in the first half, Sunderland are right on to the front foot at the start of this half. The Rovers defence - for the most part - are still dealing quite happily with the hosts' balls into the box, mind.
1436: In other news, Phil Bardsley (get in) remains on the pitch. Joy.
1435: The second half gets under way, Sunderland 0-1 Blackburn.
1434: Half-time change for Blackburn, Adam Henley replacing the injured Martin Olsson, who had previously replaced the injured Gael Givet. Odds on Henley finishing the game?
1430: How long before we see Ryan Noble - a boy who scored four goals in midweek for the reserves in front of the watching Martin O'Neill - for Sunderland? Can't be long, surely.
1428: Now then. Fancy correcting my spelling from the comfort of your own sofa? Well then tweet the commentary via
or text in via 81111 (UK). Easy life.
Tom Warner on Twitter:
"I think you should see how many variations of his name you can create... I like Bhil Pardsley personally."
Pat Nevin on 5 Live at the Stadium of Light: "No sophistication, no imagination - this game is summed up by Yakubu against Bramble. It's like watching a David Attenborough documentary with two yaks banging into each other."
1422: HALF-TIME Sunderland 0-1 Blackburn Chief football writer Phil McNulty's
HT snap-shot: "Not the flying start Martin O'Neill had hoped for, but enough opportunities to give Sunderland hope after the break. They will need to get past Rovers defender Chris Samba first, though - not easy."
1416: Another booking, this time Michel Salgado having his name taken for a little swipe at... erm... the Sunderland left back with the really easy name that I for some inexplicable reason keep mis-spelling... *draws breath*... Phil Bardsley.
1412: What on earth is wrong with that? Kieren Westwood gets away with one for Sunderland, coming for a free-kick from deep, missing it, and allowing Scott Dann to head home behind him - only for referee Peter Walton to rule it out for a foul on the home stopper. Chris Samba protests his innocence, and I have to say quite rightly so - there was nothing in his challenge there. Another let-off.
Daniel de la Cour on Twitter:
"Just call him Philly B. That way, it's correct, and you wont fail in spelling his name for the umpteenth time :')"
1409: The first booking of the game goes to John O'Shea for a shove on Simon Vukcevic.
1407: I won't lie, this isn't the greatest game ever. In fact, I reckon it might struggle to make the top three from today by close of play. Which when you consider there are only two matches...
Pat Nevin on 5 Live at the Stadium of Light: "There are more hoofs here than at the Grand National."
Ali Perros on Twitter:
"Your spelling of Phil/David/Paul Bardsley/Bardlsey is nearly as bad as the defending on show here!"
Anon via text: "Perhaps use Phil Bardsley's shirt number instead?"
1403: And now a curling effort from range from David Vaughan... over. You can't fault their effort, Sunderland, just - you know - their quality. At present anyway.
1400: Scramble! Sunderland continue to plug away - without any luck - as first Phil (not David or Paul) Bardsley (not Bardlsey) has a shot blocked after good work by Connor Wickham and then Stephane Sessegnon fires wide as the ball ricochets around the box.
1356: Sunderland still bossing possession - 60% of it in fact - but still they trail to Simon Vukcevic's opener. Martin O'Neill, as a result, is hopping about like a March hare on the sidelines. Oh how we've missed him.
1353: Enforced change for Blackburn as Gael Givet limps off to be replaced by Martin Olsson.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports from the Stadium of Light: "After the wonderful reception for new manager Martin O'Neill and early buoyancy, some impatience surfacing around The Stadium of Light after Simon Vukcevic's goal. A happy, albeit very small, band of Blackburn supporters."
1352: Another chance for Sunderland, who have responded well to going a goal down, but this time Kieran Richardson's snap-shot from Sebastian Larsson's cross is deflected inches past the far post via the face of Jason Lowe. The hosts really need to take advantage of these good moments.
1350: Almost an immediate reply from Sunderland as a cross from the right finds its way to Kieran Richardson at the back post, but Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson is out excellently to save from point-blank range. Great stop, but not great defending in the build up.
Blackburn goal: Blackburn take the lead but it's not great defending from Sunderland, Chris Samba enjoying all the time and space in the world to control a free-kick and fire at goal from the angle, Sunderland keeper Keiren Westwood parrying to Simon Vukcevic to head in from close range.
1346: Anyway, we're 15 minutes in and it's just starting to settle down a touch with Blackburn getting their foot on the ball a bit more.
1344: I'm going to get Phil Bardsley's name engraved on my computer screen I reckon.
1343: Phil BARDSLEY! BARDSLEY!
1342: Ooh, that's a decent penalty shout, that. Blackburn get forward for the first time and Yakubu drives into the box before going down under Titus Bramble's sliding challenge. Rovers appeal for a penalty but referee Peter Walton waves them away. I have to say, I reckon that was a spot-kick. Let-off for Sunderland.
1341: PHIL Bardsley, PHIL!
1340: Bit of a delay here as Blackburn's Michel Salgado receives treatment after wearing a Phil (not David) Bardsley elbow in the torso. He should be all right, though.
1338: Re: 1334 - I, of course, meant Phil Bardsley. Former QPR man David has not made a surprise comeback. Honest.
1337: It's one-way traffic in these opening minutes and Blackburn are having to hang on with gritted teeth. Stephane Sessegnon in particular, enjoying his free role behind the attacker, is getting heavily involved for Sunderland.
1334: Ooh, and now Phil Bardsley has a crackerjack effort from range that is deflected narrowly over. Really positive start from the hosts.
1333: ...whipped in by Sebastian Larsson, cleared by the home defence with Connor Wickham lurking.
1332: And Sunderland have an early chance to get the ball in the box with a free-kick well placed on the left of the box...
1331: Here we go, then, the Martin O'Neill Sunderland reign is up and running and we're under way at the Stadium of Light.
1328: I can confirm, fashionistas, that the Martin O'Neill tracksuit is back. The tracksuit, of course, allows maximum flexibility, enabling much leaping about, gesturing and general jiggery-pokery on the sidelines, just the way O'Neill likes it. He got a quite terrific reception, too, O'Neill. Something not wasted on Steve Kean.
Worried Spurs fan via text: "Rumours floating around that Defoe, Bale, Modric AND King are out today. Say it ain't so!"
Scott Mackay on Twitter:
"Rochina out with wisdom tooth problem? Not what Steve Kean needed with his other teething problems!"
1326: Pat Nevin tells BBC Five Live about his run-in with Martin O'Neill during the Sunderland manager's Celtic days, saying: "When he was at Celtic, they weren't always the best team but they were powerful, which is what I said to him. I wasn't saying they were just a sophisticated Wimbledon - but they were no Barcelona. When I suggested that, I got a wee phone call. He put his point across!"
1323: It's not been a good day headline-wise for Blackburn again, by the way, has it?
According to the Daily Mail,
Rovers are heading for a financial crisis after their bankers, Barclays, handed them a £10m ultimatum - an ultimatum that could threaten player wages. How many ladders has Steve Kean walked under?
1319: SUNDERLAND v BLACKBURN (1330) Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports from the Stadium of Light: "Sunderland's new manager Martin O'Neill takes charge of the club he supported as a boy for the first time, but he knows old loyalties will not lessen the need for swift improvement. In his match notes he writes: 'Having an affinity with Sunderland is fine but affords me nothing other than a little goodwill.' Blackburn boss Steve Keane - heavily criticised by his own fans - believes O'Neill's arrival could benefit the visitors, saying: 'Their fans will be expecting that something is going to happen so there will be big pressure on them.'"
Jack O'Meara on Twitter:
"Had a cheeky bet on Stoke & Blackburn to both win! O'Neill's unbeaten start with new teams has to come to an end soon!"
Will Rider via text: "Martin O'Neill doing what he does best by concentrating on talent from the home nations. Long live Martin!"
1314: And more from Tim Flowers on BBC Five Live: "Martin O'Neill doesn't look his age. I think Sunderland have made a great appointment. There's not a chance they'll get relegated."
1312: SUNDERLAND v BLACKBURN (1330) Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports from the Stadium of Light: "So new Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill makes three changes from the side that lost at Wolves. Connor Wickham returns after injury to replace Nicklas Bendtner, who has a groin problem. Titus Bramble and David Vaughan return, with captain Lee Cattermole suspended and striker Ji Dong-Won on the bench. It is Bramble's first appearance since
his arrest during a night out in September. Blackburn start with Simon Vukcevic as Junior Hoillett is ruled out with a hamstring injury. Michel Salgado is back and expected to figure on the right side of midfield."
1309: BBC Five Live have been talking to a few people about what Sunderland fans can expect from Martin O'Neill and Tim Flowers, who worked with O'Neill at Leicester, said: "At Leicester, we didn't see a lot of him during the week. But he came alive on match days. He'd run through a brick wall for you. He knew how to push your buttons as a player. He could cut you down if he needed to. If Robbie Savage piped up a bit too much, he'd let him know - he'd do it with all of us! He is very astute. He's been out for a long period of time but, make no mistake, he'll know what's going on."
Simon Turner on Twitter:
"People saying how will we deal without Hoilett? He is not as good as people make out, defensive errors and 'big time charlie'."
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports from the Stadium of Light: "In his column in the match programme, Sunderland chairman Ellis Short explained the decision to sack Steve Bruce, saying: 'It wasn't specifically the last home game against Wigan that determined we would change our manager, because we outplayed Wigan for most of the game. However, once again things didn't go our way and ultimately we were left to reflect on the fact that over a long period of time we have been underperforming. We believe the club should be in a better position and consequently the board took the action we believed was necessary for the good of the club.'"
1259: Did you lot know, by the way, that Martin O'Neill has taken charge of 304 Premier League matches as a manager, winning 114 and losing 92? What about the fact that since their 3-0 win over Blackburn on New Year's Day, Sunderland have won just two of 15 home Premier League matches - fewer than any other club in the division? Or that Blackburn are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since November 2010? Well you do now. You're welcome.
Patrick Scully on Twitter:
"Interesting to see how Blackburn cope without Hoilett today, he's been by far their best player so far this season."
1255: SUNDERLAND v BLACKBURN (1330) Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports from the Stadium of Light: "'Martin's Moment' reads the front page of Sunderland's match programme for Blackburn's visit to The Stadium of Light - and so it is as new manager Martin O'Neill takes charge for the first time. Both teams are in the Premier League's bottom three and Blackburn boss Steve Kean needs to follow up last week's win against Swansea as a shield against his unpopularity with a section of the club's fans."
1253: Your man at the Stadium of Light today, is chief football writer Phil McNulty. Let's hear from him...
Pro Ndebele on Twitter:
"Sunderland vs Blackburn is bigger than Chelsea vs Man City tomorrow. If you think I'm lying ask O'Neill and Kean."
Frosty via text: "Strange league this season - Sunderland and Villa have same goal difference, but are 10 places apart."
1250: TEAM NEWS SNAP Martin O'Neill recalls Connor Wickham to the starting line-up for the first time in a month, while Titus Bramble also starts for Sunderland. Blackburn are without Junior Hoilett thanks to a hamstring strain.
1237: No matter which manager has the backing, though, a win's a win - and a win today will lift either Sunderland or Blackburn out of the relegation zone and things will all of a sudden appear rather a lot rosier. It really is set up to be a monster match.
1230: Today Martin O'Neill returns to where it all began. Having kicked off life as a Premier League manager with Leicester in Sunderland back in 1996, he
returns this afternoon in the opposite dug-out
with the small task at hand of
a relegation six-pointer.
He supported Sunderland as a boy and now he must drag them up from the doldrums despite a warming-in process shorter than a turtle's trousers. Managerial bows don't come much bigger than this, people.
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