Just when you thought a point was in the bag comes a kick where it hurts.
Sunderland looked nailed on for a point – what would have only been their third of the season – and a first clean sheet when Winston Reid scored West Ham’s winner with virtually the last kick of the match.
It was harsh on the Black Cats who had withstood an early torrent from the Hammers and were worthy of a point..
It was harsh on the Black Cats who had withstood an early torrent from the Hammers and were worthy of a point. Here are six things we learned from a 1-0 defeat at the London Stadium.
When will they learn?
If you had afforded someone too much room on the edge of your box who then scored, you’d be alert to the possibility again.
Alas not. Down at the bet365 Stadium, in-form Joe Allen was stood on his lonesome, swung his left foot and scored through a crowded box.
Fast forward seven days and Reid was allowed the freedom of the Olympic Park and his goal was an action replay. OK, you could argue ‘but it was only Winston Reid’, it doesn’t matter, he was still able to turn cleverly, connect and score before being challenged.
When your luck is out, it is well and truly out:
This reporter is contradicting himself, slightly, because game management (detailed above) cost them dearly.
But lady luck was absent when Reid’s goal was allowed to stand.
It looked plain enough that a West Ham player, in an offside position, was stood blocking the view of Jordan Pickford.There was a very strong case for the goal to have been chalked off.
But this is football, not rugby or cricket, and Bobby Madley did not have the luxury of going upstairs to a TMO or third umpire.
He had to make a split-second decision and he went with a goal, but it was still mighty bad luck on the Black Cats.
Players must be careful in their own box:
Too often, as we saw with Reid’s winner, Sunderland are not close enough to their opponents.
But, twice, the Black Cats were too close, with West Ham having two shouts for penalties in the first half at the London Stadium.
John O’Shea had hold of a West Ham opponent at a corner, just moments before Javier Manquillo wrestled Reid to the turf.
Both could have been viewed as six of one and half a dozen of the other and Mr Madley awarded no penalties. But Mike Dean has been pointing to the spot for defenders breathing on opponents this season so the Black Cats must show discipline and a bit of
Sunderland can’t let their spirits drop:
In times of trouble, it is always interesting to check the perspiration levels/ body language of the players.
It has to be said that the spirit wasn’t bad at all.
Yes, the first half an hour was a little hairy as they were out-thought and out-played by a Hammers side who looked anything but a bottom side.
Sunderland rode their luck at times but they stuck at it and when they did establish a foothold, the last hour was even-stevens.
The players must take the positives from Saturday and put right the negatives.
The Black Cats have one of the best keepers in the Premier League:
For one Saturday, there were more positives than negatives for Moyes &Co
And one undoubtedly was the continued top form of the excellent Pickford, who was desperately unlucky to finish on the losing side.
Early on, his goal was threatened at the Sir Trevor Brooking End and he got down well to a dangerous low Michail Antonio cross from the right and produced a strong block after Dimitri Payet glided through.
After the break, there were fewer shots to save but his command of the box was faultless.
Jermain Defoe needs a goal:
After scoring a brace against Palace it’s now three games without a goal for JD.
It is not down to a lack of effort, a lack of service maybe, but not the want of trying.
Defoe had a jinky first half run against his hometown club which ended in a weak shot and he put an attempt over after the break and made a nuisance of himself only to find himself crowded out.
Far be it from me to tell Moyes how to run his side, it may well be worth giving Defoe a midweek outing at Southampton in the EFL Cup.
The boss might prefer to give him a night off, but a goal at St Mary’s would do him the world of good and could also get the side into the quarter-finals.