Hammers blow advantage at Sunderland
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Nov 2009 12:24:00
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In a complete reverse of last week’s result against Arsenal, West Ham United couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 lead and were forced to share the points away at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

 

Gianfranco Zola’s team showed one change from the team that started last week with Radoslav Kovac replacing the suspended Scott Parker.

 

Both sides started brightly and the first real chance fell to Darren Bent who should have done better with Lorik Cana’s cross after just 6 minutes. On 8 minutes Noble spurned a good opportunity at the other end while Paulo De Silva fizzed one just wide of the post moments later.

 

West Ham were beginning to grow in confidence and deservedly went in front on the half hour. Good build up play between Mark Noble, Valon Behrami and Jack Collison was expertly finished by Guiermo Franco from close range.

 

The Hammers went further ahead six minutes later with a great finish from Carlton Cole, with Collison again involved.

 

Sunderland gave themselves hope just three minutes later as a dubious free-kick on the edge of the West Ham box was expertly converted by Andy Reid.

 

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Sunderland were reduced to 10 men just before half-time when Kenwyne Jones was dismissed for striking Herita Ilunga. In much the same fashion as the recent home match against Fulham, however, the balance of the game swung towards the 10 men. Sunderland dominated and Robert Green made several great saves to keep the Hammers ahead.

 

Fourteen minutes from time Kieron Richardson slid in to convert a deflected cross from the right to level the scores at 2-2. What followed was a flurry of chances for both teams. Cole went close to regaining the advantage soon after, and Zavon Hines - who replaced Franco on 72 minutes - also had a shot on the angle with which he might have done better. Alessandro Diamanti, who had replaced Behrami on 67 minutes, saw his effort brilliantly saved by Craig Gordon on 84 minutes.

 

Kovac then became the 2nd Hammers’ player in a week to be harshly dismissed for two yellow cards after he tried to clear the ball but made accidental contact with Darren Bent.

 

There was still time for Darren Bent to miss a gilt-edged chance to steal a win in the dying minutes as the visitors clung on a for a point.

 

Given Sunderland’s impressive home record this has to be seen as a point gained, although in the circumstances it felt like a defeat. The Hammers are now level on points with Portsmouth at the bottom of the table, and will be looking to build on their performance at the Stadium of Light and secure their first home win against Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

 

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