This was the tale of two strikers – one cheered, the other jeered. Dave Kitson enjoyed a standing ovation after going from zero to hero with his first Premier League goal in Stoke City colours.
In contrast, Darren Bent was mercilessly heckled by Stoke fans for having announced on Twitter he was snubbing their club in favour of Sunderland earlier this summer.
Kitson rehabilitation came when he struck the winner 13 months after joining Stoke from Reading in a club-record £5.5million deal, only to be deemed surplus to requirements by manager Tony Pulis last January and sent back on loan to the Madejski Stadium.
This was all forgotten 43 minutes into his 19th league appearance when Kitson volleyed home from close-range. “That goal’s been a long time coming but the fans have been first class with him,” said Pulis.
In contrast, England hopeful Bent wasted his side’s two best openings, when hesitation allowed Abdoulaye Faye and Danny Higginbotham to make timely interventions.
But Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who confirmed Stoke’s bid for Danny Collins had been accepted, refused to blame Bent for his profligacy.