STOKE CITY’S away day woes continued as they slipped to a disappointing defeat at Sunderland.
Adam Johnson scored the only goal of the game at the Stadium of Light, while to make matters worse for the Potters they were forced to play for most of the second half with just 10 men.
Steven Nzonzi was sent off in the 53rd minute of the contest after collecting a second yellow card which looked harsh to say the very least as Jozy Altidore appeared to make the most of the slightest of contact by the Frenchman.
Sunderland were already leading at that stage, thanks to Adam Johnson’s 17th minute strike which proved to be enough to earn Gus Poyet’s men all three points.
Boss Mark Hughes made four changes to his starting line-up, including handing Odemwingie a debut just 24 hours after he had completed his switch from Cardiff.
Oussama Assaidi, Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Marko Arnautovic, Stephen Ireland and Wilson Palacios.
Capital One Cup finalists Sunderland made the brighter start and Sebastian Larsson tested Asmir Begovic early on with a shot from distance.
Begovic’s opposite number, Vito Mannone, was called into action for the first time after nine minutes as he scrambled to keep out a cross from Assaidi that had taken a wicked deflection off Ki Sung Yueng.
Phil Bardsley went close to giving Sunderland the lead in spectacular style after 15 minutes as he volleyed narrowly wide from Marcos Alonso’s cross from the left.
But the home supporters didn’t have to wait too much longer to celebrate as Johnson gave them the lead just two minutes later.
The England winger, who will be hoping to go to the World Cup in Brazil this summer, was on hand to fire home from close range – albeit from a tight angle – after Begovic had only managed to parry Fabio Borini’s shot from the edge of the area.
Charlie Adam drilled a shot wide from 20 yards out as the Potters looked to react to the setback, while Mannone made a smart save to deny Crouch after he had initially spilled a cross from Geoff Cameron after colliding with one of his defenders.
Nzonzi could have no complaints about his first booking as he sent Altidore crashing as the Sunderland man looked to counter-attack.
Cameron himself headed over from an unmarked position at the back post from an Adam corner but Stoke’s best chance of the first half fell to skipper Ryan Shawcross six minutes before the break.
Adam was again involved as he picked out Shawcross on the edge of the six-yard box but Mannone showed great reactions to block his powerful header.
Adam joined Nzonzi in the referee’s book five minutes before the break as he was shown a yellow card for simulation on the edge of the Sunderland area – a decision that looked harsh to say the least as he appeared to be caught by Ki.
Marc Wilson added to Stoke’s tally of yellow cards early in the second half for a clumsy challenge on Jozy Altidore, who was also involved in the incident that led to Nzonzi receiving his marching orders soon afterwards.
Altidore went down on the edge of the area, despite TV replays suggesting Nzonzi had barely made contact with him and referee Bob Madley showed the Frenchman a second yellow card.
Begovic produced an outstanding block to keep out Altidore as Sunderland looked to take advantage of their numerical advantage, while Stoke made their first change of the game in the 65th minute with Jon Walters replacing Peter Crouch.
Begovic made a sprawling save to keep out Larsson’s shot from distance before Hughes made his second substitution with Arnautovic replacing Assaidi 19 minutes from time.
At the other end Mannone denied Odemwingie a debut goal and also thwarted Adam in the closing stages, while Shawcross headed against the top of the bar as Stoke piled on the pressure.
Wes Brown almost diverted an Arnautovic cross into his own goal as the Potters searched in vain for some reward from their long trip to the North East but it proved to be another disappointing away day.