Sunderland 1-1 West Ham United
Saturday, 1st October 2005
by Graeme Howlett
West Ham got out of jail at the Stadium of Light this evening thanks to a second half strike from Yossi Benayoun.The little Israeli notched his second goal for the club with a lovely finish low to Kelvin Davis' left with 70 minutes on the clock to earn the Hammers a precious point.
In truth it was more than the Hammers deserved as the home side had much the better of the game. Had they taken any one of a number of chances the match would have been well beyond the Hammers by the time Benayoun notched his equaliser.
Sunderland - 1-0 up at the break through Tommy Miller - looked good value for all three points as they continued to pepper the West Ham goal with chance after chance. Through a mixture of luck and good goalkeeping from Roy Carroll the Hammers somehow managed to prevent the home side from extending their advantage; had they done so there could have been little cause for complaint from Alan Pardew's men as they were outfought, outmaneuvered and outsmarted by a Sunderland team buoyed by their first win of the campaign at Middlesbrough last weekend.
Despite Sunderland having the best of things West Ham still managed to create the odd opportunity, although their finishing was as woeful as Sunderland's. Teddy Sheringham missed the best chance of the game from just six yards on 53 minutes after Tomas Repka delivered a sublime 40 yard pass over the top of the Sunderland back line; Sheringham's fist touch was good but his second was a complete scuff.
Although the game was a reasonably good-spirited affair the Hammers still managed to earn FIVE yellow cards; Danny Gabbidon (44 minutes, foul), Paul Konchesky (two-footed tackle), Shaun Newton (trip), Yossi Benayoun (tugging shirt) and Nigel Reo-Coker (reaction to foul) all earned themselves a spot in the referee's notebook. Meanwhile, the home side - despite a 3/4 foul ratio - had just the one player booked; Caldwell having his name taken for kicking out at Nigel Reo-Coker.
Paul Konchesky can perhaps count himself a little lucky for remaining on the pitch after his late tackle; red cards have certainly been shown for less in the past.
The home side - who went into the game without a home win in the Premiership since 2002 - had scored on the stroke of half-time to go into the half-time break on top.
A low cross from the left was pulled back from the byline and tucked in by Tommy Miller from no more than three yards to give Sunderland the advantage.
It was a lead that Sunderland probably deserved after having the best chances of the first half - Andy Gray guilty of missing the best when he missed a sitter from inside the six-yard box with just five minutes on the clock.
The Hammers - playing against a home side missing two key players in Alan Stubbs and Julio Arca - rarely threatened the home goal in the first 45, although Marlon Harewood should have scored after nine minutes when put through by Yossi Benayoun. However the number 10's tame shot across the body of Kelvin Davis was an easy save for the big keeper.
Sunderland were further weakened after 33 minutes when former Hammer Christian Basilla pulled up with a hamstring; he was instantly replaced by sub Lawrence.
All in all it was West Ham's poorest game of the campaign so far; the defence, so strong in recent weeks looked at sixes and sevens at times whilst Tomas Repka had been given a torrid town on the left flank before being hauled of on the hour mark to be replaced by Christian Dailly.
It has been said this week that it was games like this in which West Ham sides of the past would have capitulated in. Whilst today's performance was undoubtedly the worst for some considerable time to have escaped with a point from a game in which we deserved none may suggest that the tide is turning.
One thing is for sure; Lady Luck was definitely wearing claret and blue today.
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Player RatingsRoy Carroll
Had a good game - and he needed to. Good stops from close range in both half's kept us in the game, whilst he was alert enough to keep out the corner-come-shot that almost crept in under the crossbar in the second period.
What happened there? So solid thus far this season Tomas had a dreadful day. Constantly beaten on the flank and unable to deliver even the simplest of passes, this was his worst performance for some considerable time - and he was rewarded by being hauled off unceremoniously on the hour mark. Redeemed himself a little however by producing the best pass of the game, sending a delicious 40 yard pass onto the toe of Teddy Sheringham (who clearly wasn't expecting something so sublime from the Czech and promptly fluffed the chance).
With the latest England squad due to be announced in less than 24 hours this was a game in which Konchesky was looking to impress. He didn't - unless you could the indent on the shin of the unfortunate Sunderland player who nearly lost his lower leg when Konch took him out two-footed on the touchline. Eager to get forward but had little help from his left-sided partner, Matthew Etherington.
What happened there, part 2? Now I'm sure footballers no longer go out on the piss the night before matches but Anton did a bloody good impression of one who had today. Some of his defending was almost comical at times; attempted back passes being sliced out for corners, clearances completely mis-hit (or kicked up an opponent's arse), passes going astray ... dear oh dear. Still, it would be harsh to criticise too much as he has been outstanding this season prior to today. A blip, for sure.
Hmmm ... whilst he was probably the pick of the bunch at the back today it wasn't the greatest or most confident performance we've seen from the Welsh centre-half. Troubled by pace, he looked uneasy with players running at him and once or twice gave away dangerous free-kicks on or around the perimeter of the box. We'll see much better from him this season.
Anonymous, in a word. Rarely involved in either attack or defence, this was one of those games that seemed to pass Hayden by. His distribution was okay, but nothing special.
Huffed and puffed as usual and put in the graft but to little effect. Despite being given some heavy-handed treatment by his opponents - who had obviously earmarked him as one to stop - he remained fairly calm until the final minute when he earned himself a yellow card for reacting to being kicked - repeatedly - in the calf.
The pick of a poor bunch today, and how priceless his 70th minute goal could prove come the end of the season. Until the goal he had been fairly anonymous although always willing to run at his opponents. His ball-winning tackle on the left flank in the 86th minute epitomised what the Hammers are all about this season though. Man of the Match by default really.
Failed to beat his marker on a single occasion and rarely threatened the Sunderland back line. Looking back on my match notes his first mention is when being replaced by Shaun Newton on the hour. Which says it all.
Good Marlon stayed at home today and Bad Marlon turned up at the Stadium of Light. Everything's black and white with Marlon, he's either very good or very poor - never anything in between. Should have done better with his one and only chance in the ninth minute.
Perhaps one game too many for the old legs? Teddy was very rarely involved today although he was guilty of spurning the Hammers best opportunity; a feat for which he was promptly rewarded by being subbed. Another who will play better.
(Replaced Sheringham, 61) Put himself about after replacing Sheringham and definitely gave the side a lift and added impetus up front. Rarely involved to any great degree but had a hand - however accidental - in our goal.
(Replaced Etherington, 67) A few good bursts down the flank without the final delivery to match. A useful player to have in the squad however, and well worth the hundred grand or so he had cost.
(Replaced Repka, 67) Sent on in place of Tomas Repka, Dailly played at centre-half for the first time this season whilst Danny Gabbidon moved to right-back. Dealt comfortably with much that was thrown at him for the remaining half-hour. A steadying and calming influence.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Roy Carroll, Tomas Repka, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham.
Goals: Yossi Benayoun 70 .
Booked: Danny Gabbidon 44 Paul Konchesky 52 Shaun Newton 73 Yossi Benayoun 79 Nigel Reo-Coker 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Sunderland: Davis, Hoyte, Nosworthy, Breen, Caldwell, Whitehead, Basilla, Miller, Welsh, Elliott, Gray.
Subs not used: J.Murphy, Collins, Le Tallec.
Goals: Miller (45).
Booked: Caldwell (90).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun.