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    West Brom 1-0 Sunderland; Big Sam Starts with Defeat

    Sam Allardyce's reign got off to the worst possible start as Sunderland were beaten by West Brom in a match every bit as cagey as was predicted beforehand. The Sunderland fans had reason for optimism as Big Sam had won his first game in charge of his previous 4 Premier League clubs in Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham but that run was ended by Saido Berahino's third goal of the season.


    Berahino celebrates his goal with captain Darren Fletcher

    Allardyce though will be left fuming with a refereeing decision rather than the performance of his players, who actually upped their game and showed vast improvements on previous outings, especially in defence. The questionable decision came when Costel Pantilimon felt he was fouled by Berahino when coming to claim a Chris Brunt cross. Berahino jumped with his back turned to Pantilimon forcing him to fumble the cross, he also seemed to handle the ball as he turned to shoot and then kicked the ball from Pantilimon's hands on the floor when the big Romanian seemed to have both hands on the ball. Referee Martin Atkinson saw nothing wrong though and allowed the goal to stand to give Pulis and West Brom their first home win of the season.

    Sunderland began brightly at the Hawthorns under new management and did not look like a side chasing a first win of the season. Steven Fletcher looked sharp coming off a fine international break and had an early sniff of goal, only to see his effort blocked by the returning Jonny Evans. From the resulting corner though, Boaz Myhill made an incredible reflex save from a Billy Jones header to keep the scores level and deny Jones a goal against his former club. The match slowly fizzled out though and such was the lack of action on the pitch many fans left their seats long before the half time whistle blew.

    The match then got the goal it desperately needed in the 54th minute as Berahino got his goal after being largely anonymous in the first half. The young Englishman seems rejuvenated since his recent transfer saga and will be looking to book his place at Euro 2016 after rival striker Danny Ings has been ruled out for the season. Pantilimon was booked for his protest against the goal but he may feel he could have been stronger against the diminutive Berahino.

    West Brom and Sunderland would go on to trade penalty appeals as the second half wound down. First of all, Rondon had a header smash into the arm of Younes Kaboul, a handball call would have been harsh though as the Frenchman had his arms by his sides. Then, Billy Jones was scythed down in the box by the returning Sessegnon, but replays showed he got just enough of the ball to avoid the penalty. 

    Big Sam threw on all his attacking options in Jermain Defoe, Adam Johnson and Danny Graham but the equaliser never looked like coming in truth and West Brom were able to hold on for the win quite comfortably. One of the games big moments came after the final whistle as ex Sunderland winger James McClean celebrated in front of the travelling Sunderland fans after enduring their taunts all afternoon. Danny Graham and Lee Cattermole took exception to his antics and this sparked a mass brawl which ended with McClean being dragged away by Craig Gardner.


    Tempers flared after the final whistle

    Sunderland have now went 9 games without a win for the third time in their history and that run simply cannot continue into the Tyne-Wear derby next week. Up next for West Brom is a trip to Norwich, who the Baggies leapfrogged in the table after their win this week.


    By Darren Beck (@DarrenBeck13)
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    Item Reviewed: West Brom 1-0 Sunderland; Big Sam Starts with Defeat Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Darren Beck
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