Black Cats back in business
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sunderland recorded just their second win of the season with a 1- 0 victory over West Brom.Sunderland claimed just their second win of the season to move 13 points shy of safety with a 1-0 win over West Brom.
The Black Cats are not yet into double figures for the campaign but kept their lingering hopes of a miracle comeback alive as a deflected goal meant Bryan Robson's team missed the chance to do their own hopes of avoiding the drop the world of good.
Sunderland followed a dismal first half by earning their rewards for an improved display when Anthony Le Tallec's shot was deflected in off Steve Watson on 72 minutes, and despite late pressure from the home side they held on for an incredibly rare, but deserved, three points.
An uninspiring first half saw a dearth of opportunities, and the best fell to the home side as Mick McCarthy's men struggled at The Hawthorns.
Former Birmingham midfielder Darren Carter was proving influential, and after chesting down a loose ball he saw an ambitious volley fly wide of the left hand post.
Watson then headed wide, before great interplay from The Baggies saw Ronnie Wallwork given space to drive a low shot at goal - which Kelvin Davis tipped round at full-stretch after a gentle touch from Junichi Inamoto.
Carter suffered the ignominy of producing an air-shot on 25 minutes, and then sent a free kick well over the bar, but the Baggies midfielder nearly opened up the visitor's defence 11 minutes later for the best chance of the half.
His chipped free kick was taken down by Watson with Jonathan Stead misjudging the flight of the ball, and the versatile star decided to pass to Nathan Ellington who fired over - although the former Everton man should perhaps have taken a shot himself.
Robson's men continued to probe down the left flank and Sunderland had Gary Caldwell to thank when the Scottish stopper cleared from under the bar after Martin Albrechtsen turned Julio Arca inside out on 40 minutes.
Tomas Kuszczak, who pulled off one of the saves of the season against Wigan, was left twiddling his thumbs throughout the first period as The Black Cats saw a woeful effort from Stead go miles over the bar before Tommy Miller skewed a shot wide after a neat one-two with Dean Whitehead.
As the first half petered to a close Ellington saw his header deflected wide after another Carter set-piece, but West Brom could not turn their dominance into an advantage in what was a poor advert for The Premiership.
Perhaps aware that a failure to win would all but end any lingering hopes of one of the most unlikely comebacks in Premiership history, Sunderland came out fighting in the early stages of the first half as Justin Hoyte let fly with a wayward effort.
Arca then should have put The Black Cats in front after Liam Lawrence's cross missed Le Tallec and found the Argentinian arriving in the box - however the wide man could only steer the ball wide from eight yards out.
The Baggies looked rattled, but hit back with a quick break that saw Ellington twist and turn past Gary Breen before Whitehead denied him with a sliding tackle in the box.
The Duke looked in a predatory mood and after again avoiding the attentions of Breen he saw a fierce long range effort gathered easily by Davis in the Sunderland goal.
However, it was still Sunderland who looked the liveliest and Arca had a free kick hit the wall before Lawrence failed to get enough curl on the ball to test the Baggies keeper.
Robson sent on Geoff Horsfield in order to add more firepower to his attack, but the move backfired as Sunderland sent their fans into raptures with the crucial strike on 72 minutes.
Lawrence robbed Carter of possession on the right, with The Baggies appealing for a foul, and the midfielder found Le Tallec who cut inside Watson and saw his effort deflect in off the luckless defender.
West Brom began to lay siege to the Sunderland goal, even introducing young striker Stuart Nicholson for his debut, and had appeals for a Davis handball outside the box waved away.
However, Robson's men were unable to break through and Greening had a shot deflected wide in injury time as The Black Cats held on to prolong their hopes of avoiding the drop.
West Brom v Sunderland player ratings
|West Bromwich Albion||Team Name||Sunderland|
|2||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||1|
|4||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5|
|14||Total Fouls Conceded||18|