WEST Ham United have earned a fantastic 2-0 victory over Sunderland in an ill-tempered clash at the Stadium of Light, thanks to Marlon Harewood's 59th minute strike and a last minute goal from fit-again Teddy Sheringham.
The Hammers dominated for much of the game against their
promotion rivals, after the Black Cats had defender Stephen
Caldwell sent off just before half-time.
Alan Pardew made two changes to the side that beat Watford. Marlon Harewood returned from suspension to partner Sergei Rebrov in attack, with Bobby Zamora dropping to the bench, while Anton Ferdinand came in for the suspended Nigel Reo-Coker. Carl Fletcher, a centre-back against Watford, switched to his more familiar central-midfield role with Ferdinand partnering Darren Powell at the heart of the Hammers defence.
The Hammers started the game brightly and almost took the lead after just six minutes, when the lively Luke Chadwick found Fletcher on the right. The Hammers midfielder hit a stinging drive that had Thomas Myhre beaten when it deflected back off the post.
A minute later West Ham fashioned a chance from the opposite flank when Etherington played a neat one-two with Rebrov and burst into the penalty area. But he curled his shot straight into the hands of Myhre.
Sunderland played their part in a lively opening to the game and on 17 minutes Hammers goalkeeper Stephen Bywater was called upon twice to keep the home side out. First he did well to parry Darren Carter's thumping drive, before gathering at the second attempt, and then had to spread himself at the feet of Stephen Elliott to block the Black Cats striker when he was through on goal.
Roared on by an army of travelling Hammers fans, Alan Pardew's men continued to cause Sunderland problems. Marlon Harewood turned Stephen Caldwell before shooting over, and then, chasing a long clearance, touched the ball past the onrushing Mhyre and cut back a cross from the by-line, only for former Hammers defender Gary Breen to clear the Sunderland lines.
Sergei Rebrov, last weekend's hero against Watford, had a great chance to break the deadlock on 33 minutes, but from Chadwick's cross the unmarked Ukraine striker headed straight at Myhre.
Alan Pardew's Hammers continued to dominate, silencing the Stadium of Light with a sustained period of pressure. Then, in the 42nd minute, frustration suddenly seemed to get the better of Sunderland. The home side were awarded a free-kick in the midfield and as Stephen Caldwell tried to get the ball off Luke Chadwick a skirmish broke out that saw Caldwell sent off by referee Graham Sailsbury.
A crescendo of boos from frustrated home fans met the half-time whistle, but the Hammers could be more than satisfied with their first-half work.
The half-time break did little to disrupt West Ham's dominance of the game. Mounting sustained pressure on the Hammers goal, Rebrov narrowly failed to connect with Repka's cross, before another low delivery from the Czech full-back flashed across the Sunderland box without finding a Hammers foot.
With Sunderland encamped in their own half, Alan Pardew's men came forward at will, and with 59 minutes gone they took a deserved 1-0 lead. Rebrov's touch released Luke Chadwick, who crossed for Marlon Harewood, arriving unmarked to volley past a helpless Myhre from 10 yards out.
A man light, Sunderland struggled to hold onto any telling possession. But with the introduction of Michael Bridges the home side found some extra verve. Stephen Wright's powerful 20-yard drive buried itself comfortably into the midriff of Bywater, but the Hammers goalkeeper looked a little concerned just a minute later when George McCartney's harmless looking left-wing cross had a glance at the top right-hand corner of his net before dropping over the bar.
However, it proved to be a fleeting glimpse at goal for the home side, as West Ham continued to pour forward. Defender Darren Powell, a scorer against Watford last week, nearly made it two in two games when he poked a toe at Matty Etherington's inswinging cross, but the ball trickled wide of the post.
The increasingly ill-tempered clash threatened to boil over on several occasions during the second-half, most noteably when Anton Ferdinand survived a penalty appeal after Bridges hit the ground under pressure from the Hammers defender. Referee Sailsbury waved away the claims, much to Sunderland's chagrin.
As the final-whistle loomed, the home side pushed forward in desperate search of an equaliser. But the Hammers defence, marshalled by the excellent Darren Powell, held firm under a last-minute barrage of crosses.
Then, to rub salt into Sunderland's wounds, West Ham launched one final raid on the Sunderland goal. Marlon Harewood fed substitute Bobby Zamora who jinked his way past a Sunderland defender and unselfishly rolled the ball into the path of Teddy Sheringham, who celebrated his first appearance in eight games, with a simple goal. It secured a fantastic 2-0 win for Alan Pardew's team and their first away win since September, ending Sunderland's unbeaten home record.