Skipper stands firm

Matthew Upson admitted Sunderland had out-boxed West Ham United during a closely-fought Barclays Premier League bout at the Stadium of Light.

England midfielder Jordan Henderson landed the knockout blow, sending a rising first-time drive past Robert Green's out-stretched right glove eleven minutes before half-time.

Captain Upson conceded that, had the match been a boxing match, the Black Cats would have won a marginal decision despite a spirited display from the Hammers.

"We don't really feel like we laid too much of a glove on them, at least as much as we wanted to. It was a decent performance but we're a little bit disappointed coming away from a game where perhaps we could have thrown a bit more at them and created a bit more and possibly taken some points."

The visitors mounted a strong defence during the opening stages, only to let their guard down for Henderson's winner.

Asamoah Gyan sprung the offside trap before cutting the ball back into the path of the youngster, who drove an unstoppable shot inside Green's far post.

"It wasn't so much just the final third. In the first half we didn't pass the ball well enough or keep the ball well enough and they had a lot possession without really hurting us apart from the time when they scored.

"The second half was a better effort. We had a bit more of a positive effort going forward. We got into the box a bit more often and looked a bit dangerous and as if we were going to score. We're just a little bit disappointed coming away having lost."

While he was naturally unhappy to leave Wearside without a point to show for his team's efforts, Upson insisted that the Hammers were still in a better place psychologically following victories over Wigan Athletic and Manchester United - the latter being dismantled 4-0 in the Carling Cup quarter-finals.

"We've had a big week, obviously with the big game on Tuesday, so it would have been nice to have kept a non-losing streak going, as such. To have taken a point would have been a really good result after the week we've had.

"It wasn't to be but we've got to take the positives from the whole week really, regroup, and go again next Saturday.

"I think we've improved. We look like we've got a chance whereas, maybe two weeks ago, we weren't looking in such a positive state as we are now. It's good that the team can feel like that and I'm going into every game thinking we can take something from it."

It will be important for every player in claret and blue to share that positive attitude when West Ham host big-spending Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground this coming Saturday afternoon.

Upson, for one, is determined to build on last week's two successes on home turf.

"We need to set about it with a great attitude and a high tempo and really make them aware that we're up for the fight. We need to set our stall out like we have in our last two home games, really take it to them, press the ball and decide how the game will pan out. I'm looking forward to it."