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Sunderland AFC v west ham (h)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

I’m finding it hard to summon much interest in this afternoon’s match, I’m sorry to say. In all likelihood it’ll be another defeat with us failing to score again and the possible added delight of Andy Carroll hammering (forgive the pun) another nail in our coffin. Like most of us I’m resigned to relegation and have been looking at the Championship table and League One’s to see who we’ll probably be playing next season. So what have we got to play for in the remaining seven matches? For a start it’d be nice just to get a goal and to finish as high as possible, above Boro at least, would give me a slight glow. With five of our remaining matches being against the other strugglers, we’ll never have a better chance to win a match or two. Oviedo is out for a good while but he’s just another example of a player who started well for us, against Palace, and then faded away.

Kone and Borini have been bigger disappointments this season as they were both really good at one time but as well as costing us a stack of money they’ve been really lacklustre. Seb’s appeal was surprisingly rejected so he’ll be out as well but at least O’Shea should start again today and he always has a go. West Ham still aren’t completely safe from relegation themselves so they’ll be having a good go themselves and I can’t see us getting anything from the game. Match prediction: 0-1.

My subscription to Sportsmania seems to have thrown in the towel six weeks before the end of the season so I had to resort to Five Live’s commentary. I’ve given up trying to access SAFSEE. Khazri was starting for a change and I was happy with that while Manquillo replaced Oviedo and O’Shea was in for Kone. Rodwell and Januzaj were on the bench, which was the best place for them.

Commentator Ian Dennis informed us that it’d been 675 minutes since we last scored but we made an attack straight from the off and that was positive. In contrast Catts was booked within sixty seconds and that was just silly. West Ham went ahead after five minutes when we allowed them to put a cross in for the unmarked Ayew to shoot into the corner. It sounded like more great defending. I was surprised a few minutes later when co-commentator Leon Osman said we were having a good go and singled out Khazri for his runs and his encouragement of his team-mates. Elsewhere both Hull and Palace were one-down too. Like me the home crowd had been quietened by that goal and the comment, “Sunderland are having a lot of possession but are doing nothing with it” sounded all too familiar. A chant of “We want Moyes out” came across the airwaves as West Ham pressed forward. There was applause shortly afterwards when Khazri switched wings and won us a corner and then….hang on a minute, how do you say it again?… we scored! Khazri took the kick himself and it went straight into the net. Perhaps one of those good old North East winds will have to go down as an assist. Big Vic had done a Nat Lofthouse on Randolph in goal which didn’t do us any harm. We took heart from the goal and kept the pressure up for a while but West Ham almost got a second when Carroll fed Ayew again and he hit it over. Our failure to cut out crosses was highlighted again.

With five minutes to the break we won two corners in fairly quick succession but having waited seven hundred minutes for a goal, I suppose it would’ve asking too much for another within fifteen. Swansea went a goal down at Watford so the overall picture for the afternoon wasn’t looking at all bad. We kept the pressure up and Khazri had an albeit weak shot on target just before the whistle. TV playbacks had apparently shown O’Shea putting a meaty tackle in on Ayew, who was down injured, so it seemed likely we’d be hearing about that again.

I was feeling a bit more optimistic as we kicked off again but we’d have to try and tighten up at the back and stop them putting crosses into Carroll or we wouldn’t get off lightly if we didn’t. That glimmer of optimism was snuffed out almost straightaway when we went 2-1 down after Collins had space to head in from a Snodgrass corner. Elsewhere, though it didn’t really matter any more, it was 1-2 to Leicester at Selhurst Park and Hull equalized against Stoke. We were making attacks when we could but Leon Osman said our players were keeping too far away from Defoe who was well-marshalled by two big defenders and had no one to lay the ball off to. With a quarter of the game to go West Ham were well in control and Moyes hadn’t made any changes yet. Khazri had put a good shift in and was sounding tired so maybe we’d see Borini on. We had a great opportunity to equalize when Khazri set up Ndong but he smashed it way over. Januzaj replaced Catts with fourteen minutes to go but some of our fans were already drifting off home. I had a feeling there’d be another goal but more likely to them. Jones went down injured after hitting the ground hard and it didn’t sound good at all. He was finally stretchered off as Borini came on and there was clearly going to be a lot of stoppage-time. Kone promptly came on for Manquillo. Well, well, well….Borini had a quick impact when he shot home a loose ball to put us level. Next thing ten minutes of stoppage-time were announced and for the first time in ages I was actually enjoying a game. Byram was sent off for a second yellow after a foul on Januzaj and we still had five minutes to go. Could we nick it? Nah, surely… We didn’t and it ended 2-2.

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