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Southampton 0-1 Sunderland

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Fletcher: Still scoring all the goals

Fletcher: Still scoring all the goals

Steven Fletcher's first-half strike ensured a vital 1-0 away win for Sunderland over fellow strugglers Southampton at St Mary's.

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Sunderland are the Premier League's lowest scorers but made a bright start with Stephane Sessegnon forcing a fine save out of Kelvin Davis inside the first minute with a powerful 30-yard strike.

Southampton looked most likely to take the lead from then on. Ricky Lambert's low free-kick bent just wide of the far post after taking a deflection off Craig Gardner before Gaston Ramirez tested Simon Mignolet with a dipping effort from outside the box.

However, it was the visitors who opened the scoring on 42 minutes. Sessegnon received the ball from Adam Johnson and picked out Steven Fletcher in the area, who finished instinctively past Davis with a first-time shot, netting his eighth of the season.

Southampton failed to get a grip on the game after half-time and suffered from a fine defensive performance from Martin O'Neil's Mackems, although Jose Fonte came close to equalising with a header from Premier League debutant Steve De Ridder's corner.

Saints had penalty appeals turned down in stoppage time when Ramirez's shot appeared to come off the arm of Fraizer Campbell, but referee Howard Webb waved away the protests.

The hosts produced their best chance of the second-half in the dying moments when Lambert cushioned a header down to Guilherme Do Prado, but his shot from eight-yards was blocked bravely by David Vaughan.

The win is only Sunderland's second away from the Stadium of Light in 17 attempts and leaves them four points above Southampton and the relegation zone.

Saints are meanwhile left hovering above the Premier League bottom three on goal difference.

Posted: 22/12/12 16:10

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