The Hawthorns is far from a happy hunting ground for Sunderland fans - in my four visits I’ve seen us lose three times and draw once, witnessing us ship 10 goals in the process.
Indeed, you have to go back to 2007 for our last victory over this weekend’s opponents. In terms of significant defeats to look back on, I’m spoilt for choice - including a crushing 4-0 defeat under O’Neill, a virtually relegated Baggies beating us 3-0 towards the end of 08-09 season, not to mention the infamous “chin up” debacle that saw the end of Paolo Di Canio’s reign. The past week or so has produced enough negativity to last us a lifetime (well at least until Saturday tea time). So, I’m going to reminisce about a Spring day in the Black County where Sunderland’s promotion push gained further momentum.
Going into the game, both sides were in excellent form with West Brom being unbeaten in 8 games while we hadn’t lost a game since a 1-0 reverse to Preston on December 30th. The lads were looking for their second win over promotion candidates in seven days, after a last gasp victory over Derby County the previous Saturday.
The visitors made a great start to proceedings, taking the lead after 23 minutes courtesy of Dwight Yorke rolling back the years with a composed finish from the edge of the area. West Brom pressed for an equalizer but the lads went in 1-0 up at the break.
Then early in the second half, Sunderland did a very un-Sunderland thing and scored from a corner. Dean Whitehead whipped in a corner from the left and Stern John nodded in from close range to double our lead.
But just as the game appeared to be safe, Sunderland did a Sunderland thing and conceded a goal out of nothing to former black cats loanee Darren Carter with just over 15 minutes left on the clock. However, the lads saw it out to give us another vital win and extend our unbeaten run to 10 games.
The victory was to be made even sweeter when Tony Mowbray gave a post-match interview dripping with bitterness where he declared:
Sunderland are a very organised, defensively set up team and you've got to give them credit for that. But over the next 10 games I would suggest we will end up with more points than them because of the way we play. We will score more goals than them.
But unfortunately for our old smoggie friend, West Brom went on to miss out on promotion altogether while Roy Keane’s defensively set up team secured the Championship title with a 5-0 demolition of Luton Town on the last day.