Sunderland last night lifted themselves out of the relegation zone.
The Black Cats recorded their first Premier League home win since November’s over Manchester City and that, combined with West Ham United’s defeat to Chelsea, was enough to take the Wearsiders out of the bottom three.
And although the Potters had Steven N’Zonzi sent off in the 53rd minute for a second yellow card after pulling back Jozy Altidore, it was anything but a comfortable win for Gustavo Poyet’s men.
Ryan Shawcross hit the bar and Wes Brown headed narrowly wide of his own net.
With Gustavo Poyet ill, coach Charlie Oatway was left to conduct the post-match interviews.
“It’s a different thing for us mentally,” he said of escaping the relegation zone. “Before we were always clawing away, we’d get a point but everyone else would get a point. If we won, two or three (relegation rivals) would win.
“So it’s nice to get a point that takes us out of that for a little while.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland’s FA Cup fifth round tie against Southampton will kick off at 12.45pm on Saturday Ferbuary 15.
It will be the third time Southampton fans have made the long trip to Wearside this season. The first, an evening game, was put back a week at short notice under police pressure, and both the others have been lunchtime kick-offs.