Stoke v Sunderland

Stoke City 0 Sunderland 1

It was all white on the night for Sunderland as they sizzled at snow-bound Stoke to bag a superb away victory.

In-form James McClean netted the only goal in Siberian conditions as the Black Cats produced the archetypal battling performance in awful conditions.

Winger McClean struck on the hour, slaloming past two players before planting a fine shot under Thomas Sorensen after Robert Huth had seen red for a foul on David Meyler just before half time.

The conditions were the dominant factor but Sunderland coped by producing more of the disciplined and organised play which has become their trademark under Martin O'Neill.

Sunderland have now triumphed in five of their last six games, taking 15 points from a possible 18, and have banked an incredible 22 points since O'Neill's arrival in mid-December.

Stoke pushed after McClean's opener but the visitors' concentration never wavered and they were good value for the victory in the end.

Groundstaff were forced to repaint the pitch markings blue in the build-up to the game following the sudden deluge of snow, with the weather predictably leading to a somewhat disjointed affair.

Both teams struggled to string passages of play together due to the tricky combination of an unpredictable surface and driving snow.

Indeed the first opportunity of the game didn't arrive until the half-hour, when Stephane Sessegnon picked up a loose ball after Jack Colback was tackled and drove a low shot just past the post.

Chances were few and far between at either end as Sunderland stuck manfully to their task, allowing only a long-range effort from Jon Walters which was well gathered by Simon Mignolet down low.

The main talking point of the half came in the final moments when Huth went in late on Meyler as the Irish midfielder attempted to play the ball.

Much to the hosts' dismay, referee Martin Atkinson produced a straight red card for the challenge, which was certainly high.

The conditions worsened during the break, so much so that as the second period commenced little grass was visible on the playing surface under the rapidly accumulating snow.

But Sunderland pressed on, coming close soon after the restart when McClean crossed from the right for Sessegnon to head onto the roof of the net.

Then, a winter warmer arrived for the visitors on the hour - the footballing equivalent of a hot toddy for the shivering away fans packed behind the goal.

McClean got his head down to drive onwards through the blizzard and his mazy run took him beyond two defenders and into the penalty area.

The Irishman kept his cool and slotted the ball under the diving Sorensen and into the net for his third goal of the season.

Stung, Stoke responded as Rory Delap just cleared Mignolet's crossbar as his powerful effort from just outside the box cracked through the sub-zero air.

Walters also fired off-target while Peter Crouch headed wide as the hosts pushed for an equaliser.

Sub Ricardo Fuller tested Mignolet with eight minutes remaining, cutting inside Phil Bardsley before firing off a shot which the big Belgian did well to gather into his chest.

Marc Wilson saw an ambitious effort deflected wide in the final minute of normal time, but the visitors weren't for beating as they held out comfortably to secure a fouth away league win of the campaign.