SUNDERLAND’S search for a first away goal since August continues after a goalless draw at second bottom West Ham.
Gus Poyet’s side enjoyed the better of the game at Upton Park, yet couldn’t find the breakthrough to avoid a second successive stalemate on the road.
Jozy Altidore passed up a golden opportunity to give Sunderland an early lead, before Phil Bardsley smashed a rasping drive against the crossbar from long-range.
The second half was a scrappier affair, with Ki Sung-Yeung going closest for the Black Cats, only to see his shot from close range pushed away by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Gus Poyet made three changes from the side which lost against Spurs seven days earlier - one of which was enforced with Jack Colback missing out through illness.
Lee Cattermole made his first start since last month’s defeat at Hull as he came into central midfield, while Emanuele Giaccherini and Fabio Borini both returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was forced into two changes, with Joe Cole and Ravel Morrison replacing the banned Kevin Nolan and the injured Stewart Downing.
Sunderland produced the first effort on goal in the third minute when Emanuele Giaccherini collected possession midway inside the West Ham half and spread the ball left to Ki Sung-Yeung, whose low shot towards the near post was comfortably gathered by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Moments later, Matt Jarvis was inches away from tapping home Maiga’s knock-down at the far post after the striker met Diame’s cross.
In the six minute, Jozy Altidore should have broken the deadlock when he beat the offside trap to Giaccherini’s through-ball.
Altidore had only Jaaskelainen to beat, but his low drive towards the far corner was pushed around the post by the Hammers keeper.
From the resulting corner, Ki unleashed a rasping volley from the edge of the area which was was heading for the bottom corner, only to be deflected wide by Mark Noble, six yards out.
West Ham had a goal ruled out in the 21st minute when Guy Demel was penalised for pushing Fabio Borini, before he tucked the ball in the net himself from six yards out.
The woodwork denied Sunderland in the 35th minute when Phil Bardsley burst down the left, checked inside and decided to have a go himself with no real options available.
The full-back unleashed a rasping right-footed shot which beat Jaaskelainen but smacked against the crossbar.
On the stroke of half-time, Sunderland went close from long-range again when a short corner was played out to Lee Cattermole, 25 yards out, and the midfield unleashed a right-footed drive which was pushed away at full-stretch by Jaaskelainen.
HALF-TIME West Ham 0 Sunderland 0
Altidore had a sight of goal in the 49th minute when he collected Ki’s lay-off and let fly with a stinging drive from 25 yards which was deflected wide off Demel.
Diame fired into the side netting in the 56th minute after bursting down the right-hand side of the area and smashing a shot towards the near post.
On the hour mark, Giaccherini sliced a right-footed shot high and wide of the far post after being picked out on the edge of the area by Borini’s lay-off.
Ki went close in the 79th minute when he collected Giaccherini’s lay-off down the left-hand side of the area, got half a yard on James Collins and fired in a left-footed shot from close range which Jaaskelainen pushed away smartly.
Former Sunderland defender George McCartney almost grabbed an inadvertent stoppage time winner when his over-hit cross was tipped over the bar by Vito Mannone.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 0 West Ham 0
WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen, Demel (O’Brien 58), Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Jarvis (Collison 56), Noble, Diame, J Cole (C Cole 75), Morrison, Maiga. Subs not used: Adrian, Rat, Taylor, Diarra. Booked: Noble (25)
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Celustka, Brown, O’Shea, Bardsley (Dossena 82), Ki, Cattermole, Larsson, Giaccherini, Borini (Johnson 72), Altidore (Fletcher 72). Subs not used: Pickford, Cabral, Gardner, Roberge.
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