Colin Randallswitches between radio commentary and stuttering streams to follow Sunderland to a disappointing end to our little run …
For 50 minutes, this was a nothing sort of game, despite how much was at stake, especially for West Ham but, we’d argue, for Sunderland too given the need to make up ground lost earlier in the season.
Then Ilan scored for West Ham after a needlessly conceded free kick led to an unconvincing attempt to defend a hopeful long punt into our box.
In the first half, Sunderland generally played the more controlled football, perhaps not surprising given the respective positions of the clubs as the match kicked off.
But little was created and West Ham looked more like scoring in what action there was in either goalmouth.
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 would have been reasonably happy with the goalless state at half time.
But an improvement was needed after the interval if we were to have a hope of grabbing three points – and didn’t come.
Worse, we simply didn’t take the greater care necessary at the back to avoid handing the game to West Ham.
Kenwyne Jones came on, and this should have put the Hammers in a nervous frame of mind for the rest of the game. But we continued to show little threat, beyond a decent pass from Bent that set up Cattermole for a narrowly wide low shot and an untimely slip that flattened Bent when he was otherwise in a great position to score.
As the game petered out in stoppage time, West Ham sounded a lot more likely to double their lead than we did to snatching an equaliser.
And they had a second goal disallowed with seconds to go.
Steve Bruce was furious that the referee then made Sunderland wait for Hammers players to stop “celebrating” before we could get the free kick taken and make a last assault on the home goal. I was just furious that we had played with such lack of inspiration.