4:58pm Saturday 14th December 2013
By Richard Mason
West Ham United 0 Sunderland 0
SUNDERLAND drew a blank against fellow relegation strugglers West Ham in the capital.
Victory against The Hammers would have put the Black Cats within two points of Sam Allardyce's side who next visit Manchester United, while Sunderland host Norwich in seven days' time.
But despite spells of domination, Gus Poyet's side could not make the breakthrough and stay bottom of the Premier League table, although they have cut the gap between 19th and 20th to four points.
Both teams enjoyed chances in the opening ten minutes at Upton Park, with bottom side Sunderland giving a decent account of themselves in East London.
West Ham had the first, when Mohamed Diame's cross was headed across goal by Modibo Maiga, but Matt Jarvis could not get on the end of it.
At the other end, Ki Sung-Yueng slid a pass in for Jozy Altidore, but the American striker saw his shot tipped around the post by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Phil Bardsley had to clear a James Collins effort on 21 minutes, before West Ham had the ball in the net when Guy Demel scrambled home at the second time of asking. However, Andre Marriner spotted a push by Demel on Fabio Borini which was enough for him to chalk the goal off.
West Ham's anger at the decision grew and the Upton Park fans were furious with a string of Marriner decisions, but Sunderland quietly got on with their jobs and grew into the game.
Bardsley hit the crossbar on 35 minutes after surging into the Hammers' half, before Emanuele Giaccherini and Borini both had efforts blocked by Demel.
Lee Cattermole, who was making his first start since being dismissed at Hull City – by Marriner – had a fine chance to take the lead but his goalbound shot from 25 yards was pushed away by Jaaskelainen on the stroke of half-time.
Sunderland had a decent opportunity after the restart when slick interplay found Altidore on the edge of the box, but his effort was deflected – again by Demel – out for a corner.
The lively Ravel Morrison, who had caused problems for Sunderland earlier with his trickery, saw a shot gathered well by Vito Mannone before Diame fired wide moments later.
Neither side enjoyed many clear cut chances inside the area, and another effort from range – this time from Giaccherini, floated wide of the post on the hour mark, before Altidore's low effort was gathered by Jaaskelainen.
Sunderland dominated the second half, but could not find the cutting edge going forward, with a Ki shot on 79 minutes representing the visitors' best chance of the half.
West Ham went close in the dying seconds when George McCartney's cross almost dropped into the net but for Mannone's intervention, while James Collins headed wide from the resultant corner.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel (O'Brien 58), Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Cole (C Cole 75), Morrison, Diame, Noble, Jarvis (Collison 56); Maiga. Subs: Adrian, Rat, Taylor, Diarra.
SUNDERLAND (4-3-3): Mannone: Celutska, Brown, O'Shea, Bardsley (Dossena 82); Ki, Larsson, Cattermole; Giaccherini, Altidore (Fletcher 73), Borini (Johnson 72). Subs not used: Pickford, Cabral, Gardner, Roberge.
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