Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Saturday August 21 2010
It was a case of Déjŕ vu for Sunderland as they kicked off their away campaign with a 1-0 defeat to West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Debutant Peter Odemwingie scored the only goal to separate the sides, late into the second half to silence the travelling away fans.
The Wearside club looked the same as they did last season, shy, timid and lacking creativity, fans must wonder why they cant perform away.
Maybe it was the lack of aggression from bad boy Lee Cattermole or the stature of now Stoke player Kenwyne Jones to target, whatever it was it has to change as soon as possible.
In the case of the newly promoted Baggies they looked like nothing could stop them, and with Chris Brunt running the show, it was no wonder they finally broke down a poor red and white side…you wouldn`t think they suffered a 6-0 defeat last week would you?
Although it was only the second game of the season, it`s too early to condemn Sunderland to a relegation battle, but if they want to avoid this, they need to sort the away form out dramatically.
Manger Steve Bruce went with the same side as he did last week with Cristian Riveros replacing the banned Cattermole.
Darren Bent was given the captain`s armband but sadly could not justify it with a goal.
In the game, danger signs were on immediate display when Baggies defender Marek Cech speeded past the Sunderland defence and whipped in a crisp cross only for Brunt`s spectacular over-head kick to go over the bar.
The force was with West Brom, and it continued this time Gabriel Thomas couldn`t control a loose ball after James Morrison`s mis-hit shot arrived unexpectedly at his feet in the penalty area.
Sunderland players must have been utterly relived once the half time whistle was blown, fans waiting to see what Bruce could do after the break.
When it came to the second half, it was the Black Cats that started off decently.
Captain Bent, who seemed anonymous during the first half, wasted a good chance after he managed to get ahead of Gonzalo Jara to head Jordan Henderson`s free kick wide.
Newly appointed left back Kieran Richardson then really tested Scott Carson with a vicious 25-yard free kick, producing a fine save from the former England keeper.
He then had to be on his toes again, this time collecting well from Nedum Onuoha`s directed header.
With the sixty-minute mark arriving, Bruce called upon, Danny Welbeck and club captain Bolo Zenden to shake up the attacking options, but failed, instead it would be a new boy to show how to attack…. and score.
Uzbekistan-born striker Odemwingie managed to pick up Morrison's cute through-ball and with more poor Sunderland defending, slotted a delightfully placed shot to cap a lively first game in West Brom's colours.
At the end of the game Bruce admitted that the performance from his players was just not good enough.
He said, "Our first-half performance in particular was way, way short of what's required if I'm being honest.
"We were much better second half and were probably having our best spell of the game when we conceded the goal.
"The goal summed us up really. We were sloppy and weren't doing our jobs properly.
"The centre forward got in between the centre halves again - that happened early in the first half, too.
"We switched off and got punished when we were having our best spell. We looked as if we were in control.
Unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot. If I'm being honest, there were no positives to take."
Sunderland take on League One side Colchester in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night with Steve Bruce looking to give his new and young players a run out at the Stadium of Light.
Date:Saturday August 21 2010
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