A late Patrick van Aanholt equaliser stopped the rot and salvaged a point for Sunderland who drew one all with West Bromwich Albion at the SOL on Saturday. Nacer Chadli had given the away side the lead in the first half after David Moyes’ side were hit on the break yet again. However although lacking in quality the lads’ at least showed some spirit to fight back and nick a point after good work from Duncan Watmore teed up an Aanholt to bundle in the leveller five minutes from time.
After last weekend’s second half horror show against Crystal Palace David Moyes side had the opportunity to quickly make amends with West Brom heading north to Wearside. The defeat last Saturday to Alan Pardew’s left us on course to equal our own record of worst start to a season in Premier League history as a victory for Tony Pulis’ side would leave us with one point after eight games.
Things went from bad to worse during the week as David Moyes was rocked with the news of Adnan Januzaj being ruled out for six weeks with a foot injury whilst in his press conference on Friday Moyes also revealed that Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe had knocks what would keep them out of the game. West Brom were expected to have Saido Berahino available after the highly rated front man missed last weekend’s draw at Stoke through illness.
Moyes made five changes to the side that lost last week against Palace with O’Shea, Watmore, Denayer, McNair and Khazri returning at the expense of Djilobodji, van Aanholt, Pienaar, Cattermole and Januzaj. With Sunderland so susceptible to set pieces and crosses Salomon Rondon was identifiable as the main threat having scored five of West Brom’s last eight away goals and he led the line for the visitors whilst former Sunderland winger James McClean also started.
We got off to a decent start as McNair fed Defoe but the front man so clinical last weekend against Crystal Palace fired wide of the mark. Soon after Watmore won a free kick when he was felled on the right hand side and although Khazri delivered a better looking set piece than we have been used to in recent weeks Ben Foster came off his line to catch it. The visitors showed their attacking prowess when Matt Phillips tore away from Denayer to play in Chadli but Pickford was equal to his shot.
Watmore continued being a threat going forward and won a few corners although The Baggies dealt with them on most occasions with Kone going the closest when he glanced a header wide. Kone had another chance from another Khazri corner five minutes later after good work from Manquillo down the right but his sweeping volley was straight down the throat of Foster.
Having started the better of the sides Sunderland typically conceded ten minutes before half time and again we were the orchestrators of our own downfall. Jan Kirchhoff dwelled on the ball too long in midfield and lost possession allowing Nacer Chadli a free run on goal. The former Tottenham forward clinically finished past Pickford slotting a low left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Sunderland who looked like their heads had dropped again with Chadli seeing a shot blocked by O’Shea before Phillip’s curled the rebound wide. Another break saw James McClean, who was booed with every touch throughout the game, surge forward but drag a cross come shot wide of the post.
Neither side made any changes at the break and our injury concerns were heightened ten minutes after the restart when Kirchhoff landed in a heap after going up for a header. The big German hasn’t hit the heights he set last season and again seemed off colour but to see him stretchered off clutching his right leg isn’t good news. Kirchhoff was replaced by van Aanholt who went wide left as Moyes went in search of an equaliser.
We forged a great chance with twenty minutes to go when a nice passage of play saw Defoe find space in the box but having taken a touch rather than strike the ball first time Defoe afforded the defenders time to recover and his shot was blocked. Moyes made his second change not long after with Rodwell replacing McNair whilst James McClean was replaced by another former Sunderland player Craig Gardner who received a better reception than his team mate.
With five minutes to go we did nab an equaliser after some fantastic work from Duncan Watmore on the left hand side. The youngster beat a couple of men before stabbing a cross into the path of van Aanholt whose volleyed effort into the ground somewhat fortuitously bounced into the top corner to draw the lad’s level. As was the case last weekend Sunderland almost conceded immediately after scoring when West Brom attacked from the restart but Rondon dragged a shot across the box which none of his team were able to capitalise on.
We made a final change with Gooch replacing Khazri for the five minutes of injury time and our best chance came from a free kick won by Watmore. The free kick was around 35 yards from goal and van Aanholt played it into the path of Defoe who struck the ball well but failed to find the target.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 West Bromwich Albion 1
ALS Man of the Match: John O’Shea
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