Stoke City continued Sunderland's misery on Saturday with a 2-0 victory behind goals from Charlie Adam and Steven N'Zonzi. Unfortunately, the storyline coming out of the match will be Kevin Friend's controversial straight red card against Black Cats defender Wes Brown just before halftime.
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Replays showing there was no contact on Adam by Brown. Add to that the fact that Adam jumped over the challenge with ease and referee Kevin Friend will likely be hearing from his bosses at the FA.
Both team showed plenty of energy in the opening 20 minutes at the Britannia Stadium as both teams seemed ready to attack. Unfortunately neither side looked dangerous enough in front of goal early despite having plenty of chances to potentially jump in front.
Finally after a half hour, Stoke finally broke through and took the lead. Geoff Cameron got things started with a lovely chipped long ball that Steven N'Zonzi was able to run on to as be moved into the Sunderland box. N'Zonzi made a suburb stop and turn to freeze the defender and set up Charlie Adam who was trailing the play for a hard low shot that beat Vito Mannone.
Things got worse for Sunderland in the 36th minute when referee Kevin Friend showed Wes Brown a straight red card despite the fact his tackle against Charlie Adam was clean. Brown made no contact at all, getting all ball, and there wasn't really any hint of a dangerous play either. Sunderland manager Gus Poyet was furious as were the players on the pitch but the two minutes of debate and argument after the decision made no difference.
There was more controversy in 73rd minute when Asmir Begovic cleated Steven Fletcher in the chest on his follow through after desperate clearance on a ball on the edge of the area. Sunderland players again surrounded Kevin Friend demanding a call from the referee but there complaints again fell on deaf ears. It was not an intentional foul but despite the fact that the goalkeeper got the ball first, it was still a rather dangerous play.
All of Sunderland's pressing and effort to try and pull even finally bit them in the rear in the 82nd minute when Steven N'Zonzi got on the end of an through ball from Peter Crouch. The goal doubled Stoke's lead and settled plenty of nerves in the stadium as the visitors have been looking dangerous at moments in the second half.
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth (Wilkinson 77'), Pieters, Walters, N'Zonzi, Whelan, Adam (Palacios 82'), Arnautovic, Crouch
Goals: Adam (30'), N'Zonzi (82')
Sunderland: Mannone, Celustka (Borini 69'), Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Ki, Colback, Larsson, Johnson, Giaccherini (Roberge 40'), Fletcher (Altidore 85')