Football: Sunderland hit for six

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West Ham United. . .6

Sunderland . . . . .0

AS PREPARATION for their North-east derby with 10-out-of-10 Newcastle next Sunday, this was less than Sunderland required. While everything is set fair for Kevin Keegan, the storm clouds are gathering over Malcolm Crosby, a manager who strode down Wembley Way last season but who is now perilously close to his profession's Death Row.

Sunderland were hit unmercifully for six, missed a penalty to boot and defended horribly. It leaves Crosby sorely exposed, but the man who was everyone's favourite on Wearside six months ago had the courage afterwards to face his problems square on. 'Yes, we were six goals worse than West Ham and I can only feel sorry for our supporters. We have let them all down,' he said.

The damage began when Don Goodman left the field for stitches in a wound above an eye caused in a collision with Alvin Martin when the striker should have scored. By the time he returned his team were two goals adrift. Goodman went on to miss further opportunities before seeing his penalty five minutes from time foiled brilliantly by Ludek Miklosko.

All Sunderland's problems, however, came at the other end where uncertainty was the order of the day and the sprightly Hammers forwards led their markers a merry dance. Goalkeeper Tim Carter will be less than happy with his attempt to keep out Kevin Keen's long range effort after 24 minutes, but thereafter he received scant protection from those in front of him.

Four minutes later, Gary Bennett could only help Keen's cross towards Trevor Morley and by half-time we were half-way to the rout, Martin Allen given oceans of room to lob home the third.

The second 45 minutes followed a similar pattern, Goodman once more unable to take advantage when clean through but Martin and the summer free-transfer from Tottenham, Mark Robson, twice, finding the net.

Surprisingly, then, no Clive Allen on the score sheet and surprisingly few at Upton Park, the stay-away fans clearly overlooking their West Ham history. This fixture three years ago brought them a 5-0 win, 24 years ago West Ham triumphed 8-0 with Geoff Hurst scoring six. Yesterday's attendance of 10,326 was the club's lowest in the League for 35 years but many of the absent will return on the evidence of this. Unchallenged by the Premier League and by Italian football, LWT had the show to itself - and what a show it proved.

West Ham United: Miklosko; Breacker, Dicks, Potts, Martin, M Allen, Robson, Butler, Morley, C Allen, Keen. Subs not used: Gale, Holmes.

Sunderland: Carter; Kay, Rogan, Owers, Bennett, Ball, Cunnington (Atkinson, 55), Goodman, Davenport, Gray, Armstrong (Rush, 55).

Referee: R Milford, Bristol.