OPPO: West Brom
VENUE: The Hawthorns
TEAM: Poom; Williams, McCartney, Breen, Arca; Oster, Healy, Whitley, Downing (Thirlwell 90); Kyle, Stewart (Smith 86). Subs:.
SUBS NOT USED: : Wright, Ingham, Bjorklund
BACK IN BLACK: Clive Penton
“Yes, Albion had a tough game midweek, but when we had the ball and passed and moved as well as we did, we made sure it caught up with them a lot faster than it might have.”
It was another hard-luck story for Sunderland who handed promotion favourites Albion a footballing lesson.
Mick McCarthy’s men were streets ahead of the Baggies and only a combination of missed chances and good goalkeeping denied them a deserved win.
The Black Cats carved out a dozen or so chances, pushing West Brom on the back foot from the word go.
The game threatened to boil over in a short spell before half-time, culminating in Downing holding his face on the floor after what looked like an elbow from Haas.
Sunderland proved more than a match for Gary Megson’s weary-looking West Bromwich.
Sunderland quickly showed they meant business, Marcus Stewart forcing Paul Gilchrist to hack his shot off the line.
Thomas Gaardsoe had a header blocked on the line but Sunderland soon regrouped with wing-back Julio Arca posing a potent threat down the left.
Stewart Downing had the best chance to secure victory from Arca’s through-ball but Hoult just managed to push his shot against a post.
Mick McCarthy may always wonder quite how his side failed to win this game at the Hawthorns.
This was as one-sided as it gets as Gary Megson’s shattered troops tried and failed to reproduce the effort that carried them to their superb Carling Cup victory.
Sunderland looked more composed and cohesive and enjoyed far and away the greater goal threat.
Darren Williams – almost single-handedly – set the whole of the Hawthorns against him. The full-back smacked the ball needlessly into a section of supporters in the East Stand.
It was one-way traffic for the first 15 minutes of the second-half. West Brom simply could not get going.
People player ratings: Poom 6 – Williams 6, Breen 7, McCartney 7, Arca 8 – Oster 6, Whitley 7, Healy 8, *DOWNING 9 (Thirwell, 90mins) – Stewart 7, (Smith, 86mins) Kyle 6.
“Albion survive hammering”
Albion were run absolutely ragged yesterday. In every respect except the one which counts, this was a thrashing and that they emerged with a point was barely believable.
The traffic flowed in only one direction….Sunderland simply played their way through the Baggies’ laboured line of five to create a stream of chances.
Downing, by now more or less untouchable, was yet again picked out by Arca, left Bernt Haas for dead for perhaps the 10th time in the match and cut inside.
Downing, substituted with seconds remaining, left the field to chants of “Sign him up” from the Sunderland fans.
West Brom’s stuttering home form continued as they were forced to hang on for a goalless draw at home to fellow promotion hopefuls Sunderland.
They were indebted to several impressive saves by goalkeeper Russell Hoult to keep Sunderland at bay.
Poom was called into action again when he brilliantly tipped a Lee Hughes effort over the crossbar.
Sunderland were looking slightly the better side though and went close when Hoult kept out Marcus Stewart’s header.
That Sunderland came up with yet another blank scoreline was down in part to profligacy, but mainly to the enduring excellence of West Brom’s goalkeeper, Russell Hoult.
Their game was lifted to the levels of excellence by Stewart Downing “I knew what he was capable of and he produced it,” said McCarthy.
Oster, who ran midfield like a fiefdom while Jeff Whitley held the ramparts in front of Sunderland’s back line, not that they needed to do much defending.
When it seemed, finally, that Downing, the one who deserved to win this match, would be the one to do so, Hoult somehow finger-tipped his low cross-shot onto an upright. McCarthy should hasten to extend that loan period as far beyond a month as he can manage.