STEVE Clarke understood Sunderland’s frustration at the Black Cats not getting a penalty just minutes after West Brom had been awarded a spot-kick for a similar incident.
But he pointed out that Craig Gardner’s error in the 34th minute was far more obvious than Gareth McAuley’s 10 minutes later.
Both men were guilty of handball in their own area, but only the Sunderland man was punished.
Clarke observed: “What I would say is that when the cross came into the Sunderland box there was clear daylight between Gardner’s body and his arm – it was a simple decision for the referee to make.
“When it struck McAuley, his arms were down by his sides, so it’s harder for the referee to judge.
“If I can be biased, I would say that at least McAuley’s arms were down by his side, so you can make the argument of what else is he supposed to do?
“He can’t saw his arms off!
“But there’s no doubt that the decision could easily have gone against us.”
Consecutive victories over Liverpool and this weekend Sunderland have revived Albion’s season and got them to the accepted Premier League safety mark.
Clarke said: “It’s a relief to get to 40 points, if I’m honest.
“I’ll admit I’m also a little disappointed we didn’t reach it a little earlier after how well we did in the first half of the season.
“But I’m pleased with the 40-point mark and now we got for the 50-point target.”
* Don’t miss the Football Echo - out today - the best buy of the weekend, with 44 packed pages covering SAFC in depth, plus much more.