Black Cats move into seventh in Premier League thanks to first-half goal
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce started his big three, Danny Welbeck, Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan. Though he didn’t require any of them to score as Henderson’s early goal claimed all three points for the Black Cats to lift them into seventh place and halt the visitor's recent revival.
The home side started the brightest early on as they looked to move about, passing the ball forward from the back and looking to get in behind the West Ham back four, who as a team had already conceded 24 goals in the league, going into the Stadium of Light fixture.
During the first ten minutes the usual suspects for both sides, Luis Boa Morte and Lee Cattermole from themselves in referee Martin Atkinson’s notebook after the West Ham winger committed a dangerous two footed challenge on Kieran Richarson.
Sunderland’s midfield general Cattermole, then found himself in the book after catching Boa Morte from behind, just outside the Black Cats penalty area.
The first real chance of the game came a quarter of an hour in, when Cattermole claimed the ball in the middle of the park, then unleashed a strike from just outside the box that Hammers keeper Robert Green claimed comfortably as the ball began to change direction.
Five minutes later it was the turn of the visitors to have their first shot on target, as Victor Obinna hit a free kick from the center edge of the penalty area, but Sunderland goalkeeper was up to the challenge as he knocked the ball down and collected it before a West Ham player could arrive.
After that chance, the home side went right up the other end of the pitch, as Jordan Henderson raced down the right hand side before playing a cross towards Asamoah Gyan, but the Ghanaian striker could not connect with the ball and that allowed Tal Ben-Haim to head over for a corner.
Moments later West Ham should have gone into the lead, when John Mensah made a mistake at the right hand touchline allowing Carlton Cole to race in on goal, but unfortunately for the striker, Anton Ferdinand made his way over and managed to clear the ball before Cole had the chance to test Gordon.
With just over ten minutes left in the half Sunderland went a goal up, when Gyan broke the Hammers offside trap and sped down the right wing, before passing the ball to the on-rushing Henderson, who smacked the ball home form near the penalty spot to give Steve Bruce’s side a well deserved lead.
That helped spark the crowd and the team into further life, and their lead could have been doubled when Gyan spotted Green off his line and proceeded to chip the West Ham keeper, but the bar would come to the England international’s rescue.
From then on Sunderland continued to pepper the Hammers defense, with both Richardson and Cattermole having attempts at extending the home side’s lead. But just before the whistle for the end of the half Jonathan Spector gained the ball in the middle of the park, before making his way forward and striking just by Gordon’s right hand post.
Avram Grant’s side came out for the second half a lot better as Scott Parker started to control the midfield area a lot more. That new found confidence nearly helped out less than five minutes into the half, as Carlton unleashed a strike from the edge of the area that went just wide of Gordon’s post.
That started a nervousness in the home fans, which translated its way onto the pitch as every time Sunderland lost the ball, there were large groans from the Black Cats in the stand as the passing that had saw Steve Bruce’s side go into a first half lead had disappeared during the break.
On the hour mark the visitors had a strong case for a penalty as Kieron Dyer went down just inside the box, but referee Atkinson waved away the protests of the former Newcastle midfielder.
Sunderland eventually started to get more into the second half, with Richardson having a strike from just outside the area that Green had to be up to it, in order to keep the Hammers in the game.
Green was once again called into action minutes later as a mistake by Parker allowed the home side to go forward, with Gyan having a strike from the left hand side, which was once again dealt with by the England international.
The home side once again went forward, breaking though the visitors on the counter attack, with both Henderson and Bent exchanging passes, but unfortunately Henderson failed to go forward when receiving the ball back and allowed the Hammers defence to make their way back in order to clear the ball.
With a quarter of an hour left in the game, Bruce decided to tighten up as he took the ineffective Bent from the field and replaced him with Steed Malbranque in order to see out the game and claim all three points.
There was nearly a comedy cuts moment for West Ham as Scott Parker attempted to clear the ball inside his own box, but all he could do was to hit it towards Green’s goal, but the Hammers keeper done well to palm the ball over for a corner.
With just over five minutes left Sunderland should have sealed all three points, as Gyan chipped the ball into the path of Richardson who challenged for the ball with Green. The referee did not award a free kick to the keeper and allowed Welbeck to progress with the ball, but the on-loan Manchester United youngster couldn’t finish as James Tomkins managed to play the ball out for a corner.
Sunderland then managed to see out the remaining minutes in order to gain all three points and their great record that they have at Stadium of Light, which has seen them go up to seventh in the Premier League.
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