But the fact that the Tigers could not add to their lead in 45 minutes of 11 against nine will leave Black Cats fans wondering what might have been. Adam Johnson even had a glorious chance to level the scores in the 78th minute, Steve Harper making the crucial save, while Jake Livermore hit the post at the other end. But that will surely matter little to Hull boss Steve Bruce, who was facing the Wearsiders for the first time since being sacked by them amid a torrent of abuse from the fans. Bruce was not the only one to get one over his former club, with Paul McShane, Ahmed Elmohamady and David Meyler – a last-minute replacement for the injured Sone Aluko in Hull’s starting XI – all former Black Cats. After a cagey start Hull created the first real chance in the 17th minute, Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick finding Curtis Davies whose flicked header narrowly evaded both Livermore and McShane. In the 25th minutes the hosts were in front thanks to the own-goal. John O’Shea was partly responsible, needlessly heading out of play to give Hull a throw-in deep in Sunderland territory. Rosenior took it and when the ball made its way back to him sent in a fizzing near-post cross for Sagbo. Press Association Sunderland’s derby day celebrations came to an abrupt end as a Carlos Cuellar own-goal and two red cards saw them defeated 1-0 by Hull at the KC Stadium. Having beaten rivals Newcastle last weekend, defeat here will have been a huge comedown for manager Gus Poyet – who would have been fuming about an inexplicable lack of discipline that saw Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena sent off within moments of each other at the end of the first half. By then Hull were already in front, Cuellar turning a Liam Rosenior cross into his own goal under pressure from Yannick Sagbo. He flung a leg at it but it was his marker, Cuellar, who unwittingly headed past Keiren Westwood from a tight angle. Westwood’s afternoon was cut short by injury when McShane clattered him, unintentionally, while looking to get on the end of another Davies header. The Republic of Ireland keeper attempted to play on but was visibly groggy and was forced to make way for Vito Mannone, a former Hull loanee. Buoyed by the goal Hull kept possession for the best part of five minutes, with the home fans greeting every touch with a traditional ‘Ole’. Whether or not that contributed to the Black Cats’ frustration is hard to know, but they soon betrayed a recklessness that left them two men down at the break. Cattermole was the first to go, lunging in with studs up on Elmohamady after he had exchanged passes with the busy Meyler. Cattermole is well used to seeing red and appeared unsurprised to be on his way. With five minutes added time for the Westwood injury, Sunderland would have been hoping for no further drama before the break. But Dossena ensured that would not be the case when he stamped on Meyler over the top of the ball. Andre Marriner produced his red card again and the visitors went in reeling. Poyet made two changes at the break, Johnson and Wes Brom replacing Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini. Regardless, Hull dominated possession as expected. A couple of hopeful efforts sailed over before Livermore played in George Boyd, who bundled past Cuellar before shooting just wide across goal. With Steven Fletcher frequently the only red and white shirt in the Hull half, Sunderland managed to reach the hour-mark without conceding a second. Livermore went closer than most with a deflected effort that Mannone reacted well to save but O’Shea and Cuellar were largely doing well against the odds. Sunderland gave Hull a couple of reminders that their lead was still a slender one – Johnson shooting wide of the upright after a sloppy clearance from Maynor Figueroa and Seb Larsson putting a dangerous free-kick into the side netting. Bruce made a pair of attacking changes as looked to seal the points, Robert Koren and Nick Proschwitz replacing Meyler and Rosenior, with Elmohamady slotting in at right-back. But Sunderland should have drawn level with 12 minutes left when Johnson got on the end of a long ball and was denied by Harper from a glorious one-on-one position. It was a crucial intervention by the former Newcastle man. Within seconds the ball was at the other end of the pitch, Livermore rattling the post from 20 yards and that was the closest either side came to adding to the score.
Sir Maximilian begins his second career with Ian Williams in Friday’s Mercury Stakes at Dundalk. The five-year-old made huge strides this season for Tim Pitt, but owner Paul Wildes decided to move the sprinter back to Williams, who had him for a short spell last season. Pitt won a Chester handicap with him off 88 in May and he produced a career-best on his last start when beaten just less than two lengths in the Prix de l’Abbaye. By Montjeu out of Classic winner Hula Angel, Tigris River spent much of the spring and summer acting as a lead horse for dual Derby winner Australia but showed he nevertheless has that winning spirit by seeing off Special Tiara over two miles. Galway winner Whitey O’Gwaun and the Ger Lyons’ pair of Captain Teemo and Unrequited are others to note. O’Brien also fields a likely type in Adeste Fideles, who tackles the Floodlit Friday Nights At Dundalk Maiden. Two divisions of the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Apprentice Handicap and the Floodlit Friday Nights At Dundalk Maiden complete the card. In between, he won the Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh and a Group Three at Tippperary, so obviously likes the Irish air. “He’s only been here about a week, but I did formerly train him and bought him for the owner, so it’s nice to have him back. His run at Longchamp was outstanding,” said Williams. “I think he was three-quarters of a length in front of Abstraction on a run at Tipperary earlier this year and is 3lb worse off. “He’s well drawn (stall two), Stevie (Donohoe) knows him well and the horse seems in good form.” Williams’ also runs An Cat Dubh in the Christmas Party Nights at Dundalk Handicap, with the recent Musselburgh winner another to have transferred from the care of Pitt. Some familiar names feature in the Book Your Christmas Party At Dundalk Handicap, and Bubbly Bellini leads the pack after winning once and finishing second twice already this month. Adrian McGuinness’ runner will be having his 83rd start as he tackles the likes of Burn The Boats, Strait Of Zanzibar and Rummaging in the seven-furlong contest. The regally-bred Tigris River lines up for Aidan O’Brien in the Crowne Plaza Race & Stay Handicap after hitting the target at Killarney on his latest appearance. Press Association
Swansea manager Garry Monk rued his side’s “sluggish” display after they suffered their first defeat of the season at Watford on Saturday. For Watford, their first strike since the opening day of the season and first victory will come as a much-needed boost in their bid for Premier League survival. The home supporters celebrated wildly at the final whistle as their side survived seven minutes of injury time. “I am too old for this kind of extra-time – it was really long – but the experience of our players did really well in the situation,” said manager Quique Sanchez Flores afterwards. “We are really happy with the first win because we are wishing to score. When you create attempts but you don’t score, sometimes the players forget they are working well. “We told the players, ‘don’t worry, it is not a problem it is football’, but it is better if we score and the players can be happy.” Flores’ first Premier League win was all the more sweeter with his 12-year-old twins in attendance at a sun-drenched Vicarage Road. “It was really emotional for me as it is the first time that they came here to the stadium because they were in Spain before,” Flores added. “I like my kids here supporting me and they know today what I feel inside.” But the hosts, who had to see out most of the second half with only 10 men after Valon Behrami was dismissed for an apparent stamp on Andre Ayew, were good value for their victory. Swansea, 2-1 victors against Manchester United in their final match before the international break, were off the pace and Monk lamented his team’s performance. “It was a poor afternoon for us, and nowhere near the levels we require to do well in this league,” he said. “There was a lack of focus on the good things that we do – what we are capable of – and we went away from that today. “We were doing things that we do not normally do. We were sluggish with the ball and did not use the ball in the right areas and that is the reason we lost the game. “I am disappointed with a loss and I am not going to come in happy if I have just lost a game, but the manner in which we lost is the most disappointing bit.” Watford had not scored since the opening day of the Premier League season, but a long punt up field from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was headed down by Troy Deeney before Ighalo, who signed a new five-year deal on Friday, calmly converted from six yards. “It summed our day up – poor,” a visibly frustrated Monk said of Watford’s goal. “We had enough men there to deal with it and we didn’t. It was an extremely poor goal and I am disappointed with that.” Press Association Odion Ighalo scored the only goal of the game shortly before the hour mark to secure Watford’s first victory of their Premier League campaign. Heading into Saturday’s encounter, the Hornets had failed to score in their previous four outings, and were without a single shot on target in their last two.