HT West Ham 0 Sunderland 0

Colin Randall listens, watches, hopes from his bunker in France as the Lads go in at half time level after a steady but hardly exceptional first 45 minutes …

Latest: West Ham 1 SAFC – see footnote

Would it be entirely unfair to say that this has so far been a game for fans who find the minute-by-minute growth of grass interesting?

Sunderland have played generally the more controlled football, perhaps not surprising given the respective positions of the clubs as the match kicked off.

But for most of the last half of the first 45 minutes, West Ham looked more like scoring.

Craig Gordon may have been fortunate – was fortunate, according to Gary Bennett, summarising on Radio Newcastle – to get away with a tussle with Carlton Cole that could have seen him sent off, and the Hammers in the lead, soon after the keeper had been booked for inadvertently handling the ball outside his box.

We had a couple of moments, and Steed Malbranque again played a part in our more positive advances on the Hammers goal. One dangerous low cross that eluded everyone was the nearest we actually got to going ahead.

Sunderland will be reasonably happy with the goalless state at half time. But an improvement is needed after the interval if we are to grab three points – and greater care is needed at the back to avoid handing the game to West Ham.

** Second half: Hammers go ahead

Yet another of those needless free kicks we concede, a long punt into the box and our defence is asleep as Ilan slips it past Gordon.

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