Grant's Revival Trip; West Ham Boss Given Lift by Rare Away Win

Article excerpt


Sunderland 1

West Ham United 2

I months and 22 games since the travelling regulars of West Ham savoured the joy of an away victory. And even the most optimistic among the 500-plus on Wearside last night cannot have expected to return home in the early hours with the Hammers in the fourth round.

Once again inspired by captain Scott Parker, the Premier League's bottom club pulled off a deserved win at the Stadium of Light to ease their worries and pile the pressure on Steve Bruce, as he continues his battle to win over the Sunderland supporters.

Bruce's side departed to an ovation following their last-gasp 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Saturday. Last night the boos were back in town.

Not that Avram Grant was bothered as he celebrated his first win over Premier League opposition as West Ham boss. It was the boost he needed before Tottenham visit Upton Park on Saturday.

'Psychologically, this was a very important win for us,' said Grant. 'I am delighted because it has been a long time coming.

'After so many games with zero points and playing well it is good to get a win because it shows if you continue to do the right things you can win matches. It is good for the confidence of the players.

'We played well, we were the better team and deserved to win. It shows we are making progress. I am very optimistic about the season. We have a vision. Bottom of the League is not the place for us.'

Grant was looking for something to spark his team into life and made seven changes. Bruce, looking to end Sunderland's 37-year wait for silverware in a competition which has eluded every one of his predecessors, made just two -- and still lost.

Record signing Asamoah Gyan gained valuable playing time with Darren Bent, but other than the welltaken flicked header from Jordan Henderson which cancelled out Frederic Piquionne's 34th-minute opener, the Ghana striker looked out of sorts and down on fitness. Like Anton Ferdinand and Kieran Richardson, he also suffered a hamstring injury.

Gyan's inevitable substitution in the 59th minute came just after Victor Obinna had scored the winner, coolly finishing after another determined run from Parker had created the space for a striker whose shooting until that point had been wild. …