Baggies and Black Cats share spoils
ALBION claimed a valuable Barclays Premier League point from a goalless clash against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Chances were few and far between during an encounter in which neither goalkeeper was forced to make a serious save of note in front of watching England manager Roy Hodgson.
The match may not last long in the memory but it is certainly a worthy point gained for the Baggies – coming against a Black Cats side who went into it one point and one place below them in the table and desperate to record victory in front of the 40,943 present.
The point - and impressive tenth clean sheet of the season - extends Albion’s unbeaten sequence to four matches in all competitions and means head coach Tony Pulis has now tasted just one defeat in his nine games at the helm.
Throstles captain Darren Fletcher returned to the starting XI in place of Stephane Sessegnon having been cup-tied for last weekend’s impressive 4-0 triumph over West Ham.
There was a moment of controversy and arguably the game's key talking point after just five minutes as Joleon Lescott received a yellow card for bringing down Danny Graham, who found himself bearing down on goal, with the hosts screaming for greater punishment.
Both sides probed and looked for an opening in the first quarter albeit without testing either goalkeeper.
Jermain Defoe flashed an effort across the face of goal after 35 minutes while Claudio Yacob rifled over the crossbar from distance shortly before half-time.
Adam Johnson did have the ball into the net just prior to the interval but was denied by the offside flag, before Ben Foster made the first save of the encounter in injury time to parry Seb Larsson’s long-range strike.
Santiago Vergini headed off target around the hour mark as the second half continued in much the same vein as the first.
Foster made a reaction save from Black Cats substitute Connor Wickham in the 75th minute.
Brunt enjoyed a speculative strike from distance in the closing stages but it failed to test Costel Pantilimon, ensuring the shares were spoiled and Albion headed back down the M1 with a notable point gained.
Albion: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Lescott, Brunt, Morrison (Baird 73’), Fletcher, Yacob, Gardner (McManaman 87’), Ideye, Berahino.
Subs: Myhill, Wisdom, Olsson, Mulumbu, Sessegnon.
BOOKED: Lescott (foul 5’), Dawson (foul 29’)
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Vergini (van Aanholt 87’), Reveillere, O’Shea, Brown, Cattermole, Larsson, Johnson, Alvarez (Fletcher 68’), Graham (Wickham 68’), Defoe.
Subs: Bridcutt, Gomez, Coates, Mannone.
BOOKED: Alvarez (foul 11’)
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Albion star man: Joleon Lescott