Express & Star

Sunderland 2 West Brom 1 - Report

Patched-up Albion lost consecutive league games for the first time this season as two late Sunderland goals condemned them to a Stadium of Light defeat.

Last updated

Dan Ballard - who survived a sure-fire red card for an earlier awful challenge that left Josh Maja in a heap - headed in Alex Pritchard's free-kick with 20 minutes left before Pritchard fed Dan Neil, after an unlucky Conor Townsend slip, for a cool second.

Baggies substitute Brandon Thomas-Asante hit back with a few minutes left but Carlos Corberan's side were second best on an afternoon that highlighted an absence of key individuals.

Albion were without Jed Wallace, Matt Phillips and Okay Yokuslu and a first start for striker Josh Maja, at his former club, lasted just 35 minutes before he worryingly departed after Ballard's horror challenge, for which he was cautioned, and Albion lost an attacker in the first half for the third game running.

Corberan's side were under-par and struggled with control or to create major chances at goal but the head coach will surely be smarting at Ballard staying on the pitch. The visitors, though, were fortunate to survive a wrong offside decision to rule out an early Jobe Bellingham goal for the managerless hosts, who this week sacked Tony Mowbray and climbed momentarily to sixth with the win.

Albion looked weary and lacking inspiration without key figures and have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Blackburn and Stoke - league and cup - in early August. It was a day to forget for many fans who couldn't make the ground due to traffic incidents in a poorly-scheduled television fixture.

Corberan handed summer signing Maja his first Albion start after the goal against Leicester last time out - against the club he made his name. Thomas-Asante dropped to the bench.

Nathaniel Chalobah (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Also in for the Baggies was midfielder Jayson Molumby - in for his first start since September - for the suspended Okay Yokuslu. John Swift and Kyle Bartley were also recalled to the starting line-up, for the injured Phillips and Kyle Bartley.

The hosts had interim Mike Dodds in the dugout after the decision to axe Mowbray this week and Bellingham, in a slightly unfamiliar lone striker role, and Patrick Roberts were recalled.

It was a busy, action-packed first period, initially with an even look about it before the hosts grabbed the initiative. Jeremy Sarmiento and Neil traded off-target efforts for the sides before the Baggies managed to forge the first clear chance.

Grady Diangana span expertly and played a perfect ball into the path of Maja, whose first touch was perhaps unnecessary and certainly too heavy and allowed a defender to recover in the penalty box. Alex Mowatt sent a low 25-yard curler inches wide of the left post shortly after.

But the hosts should have led on 14 minutes, but for a big mistake from referee Darren Bond and his team - much to the relief of Alex Palmer.

The keeper was slack and almost caught in possession before the ball was worked to Adil Aouchiche, whose tame strike was spilled by Palmer into the path of Bellingham, who converted from close range - but for a belated assistant's flag wrongly ruling offside, as TV replays proved the ex-Blues youngster was well on.

Feeling aggrieved, the home crowd had more to argue moments later as the officials ignored soft penalty appeals after a mazy Patrick Roberts run ended by Molumby.

Corberan's men began to look a little off the boil and pace either side of the half hour mark as Sunderland sniffed an advantage.

While the home side should've had a goal - they should've also had a first-half red card.

Defender Ballard lunged into an awful scissored challenged from behind on Maja who was left crumpled in a heap. Eventually, helped by physios, the striker was helped off to tasteless chants as replays showed the severity of the challenge. Winger Tom Fellows was introduced with concerns of Thomas-Asante's fitness ahead of the clash. Swift, who had been in and out of the first half, went up front.

Palmer got down to deny right-back Trai Hume's cross-shot from the byline before Diangana had a shot deflected before the break amid one or two bright Albion moments.

The second period took some time to burst into life but did so around the hour following a couple of cautions.

Trai Hume (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Former PSG Frenchman Aouchiche was found in space inside the box and his strike across Palmer cannoned the left post and dropped to dangerman Clarke, whose follow-up was superbly tipped wide by Palmer - with a goal kick given.

The contest became stretched, with the hosts looking the brighter and sharper going forward. Corberan introduced Thomas-Asante and Nathaniel Chalobah.

Sunderland remained on top and Clarke crashed into the side netting five minutes later after Palmer helped on a cross.

A breakthrough looked on the cards but it came all too easily from an Albion perspective with 20 minutes left.

Former Baggies loanee Pritchard, just on as a sub, delivered a free-kick from the right and there was Ballard - whose awful challenge had injured Maja - to beat fellow sub Chalobah to the ball and head in at the near post.

The visitors looked despondent and any efforts at firing back saw tame effort deflect or drop wide.

Evoking memories of last week, it was a Baggies set-piece that handed the opponents a second. Inside the final 10 minutes a corner was broke from and Pritchard was the creator again, his perfect ball fed Neil and the midfielder kept his composure to dink a cute finish over Palmer.

There was an element of misfortune on Albion's part, as Townsend slipped when in control of the ball to allow the Black Cats to pounce.

That looked that, until barely a minute later as subs combined for Thomas-Asante's fine header to beat Anthony Patterson from Pipa's excellent left-sided cross.

Corberan's men couldn't muster one final big moment. Sarmiento, Albion's brightest attacker, had a half-hearted penalty appeal waved away but the hosts were value for their win.


Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Patterson; O'Nien (c), Ballard, Huggins; Ekwah; Roberts (Mayenda, 82), Aouchiche (Pritchard, 63), Neil, Clarke; Bellingham.

Subs not used: Bishop, Burstow, Rusyn, Ba, Seelt, Triantis, Dack.

Albion (4-2-3-1): Palmer; Furlong, Bartley (Ajayi, 76), Kipre, Townsend (c); Molumby (Chalobah, 60), Mowatt; Diangana (Thomas-Asante, 60), Swift (Pipa, 76), Sarmiento; Maja (Fellows, 36).

Subs not used: Griffiths, Pieters, Taylor, Higgins.

Attendance: 40,101 (no away figure given)

Referee: Darren Bond