Sunderland vs West Brom match report: David Moyes still searching for first win after Stadium of Light stalemate

Sunderland 1 West Brom 1: Patrick van Aanholt secures a point late on but Sunderland remain winless this season

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The Independent Football

Tony Pulis was smiling and talking statistics. “We had 18 shots (it was actually 17) and 21 crosses. The running stats of the lads are very good.”

As usual he was standing up, addressing the media. It was game 1001 but it did not look it.

That was because the statistics backed up entirely the dominance of his team’s display. There are times to question the way emphasis on Pulis’ teams - resolute, hard to beat, - but it was not after this game.

The question then, at the Stadium of Light, was how West Brom returned to the Midlands without their third win of the season.

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Salomon Rondon shoots under pressure from Jason Denayer (Getty)

“When you dominate a game that much you expect to win,” said Pulis. “We’re disappointed. We need a bit of quality in the final third. Chadli has that bit of quality you need. His goal was real quality.”

That had come in the 35th minute, by which point the visitors had taken control.

Matt Phillips slipped a ball through to the former Tottenham midfielder. Lamine Kone, whose afternoon was long and ponderous, was out of position and could not catch Chadli, who took a touch with each foot before sliding his shot into the bottom corner of Jordan Pickford’s goal. It all seemed so easy.

Chadli was everywhere. In the 13th minute he had also latched onto a Phillips pass and Pickford did excellent to save to his left. Pickford has been the pick of Sunderland’s players this season, but then he has a regular occasion to shine.

Surprisingly, and this is another worry for David Moyes, Jermain Defoe spurned two fine chances to score, one in each half.

Three minutes had past when he was put through by Duncan Watmore. Defoe somehow slipped the ball wide of the far post. There was indignation from everybody at that point, not least the player himself.

He had another chance in the 71st minute, but this time Jonny Evans produced a fine block.

There is no other option in that position for Moyes, as he admitted. "We don’t have any forward attacking players to make any changes to our play and what we do," he said.

To that end, with his side trailing, and at that point bottom of the table, with the home crowd restless and with players arguing with each other - Didier Ndong and Whabi Khazri - he had to do something. Anything in fact.

Pickford had done all he could, stopping a stinging volley from Darren Fletcher and a close range shot from Salomon Rondon.

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Patrick van Aanholt celebrates scoring the equaliser (Getty)

Moyes, in need of a spar to alter the familiar course of a season, turned to the left back Patrick van Aanholt.

“We can only change the system and get more crosses in,” he said. “We had been training with Pat further forward this week.

In the 83rd minute Van Aanholt went on a run, fed the ball to Watmore, took the return pass and fired the ball into the ground in the West Brom penalty area and it had the force to bounce into the top corner of Ben Foster’s goal.

“We needed to find a goal from somewhere,” said Moyes. “They kept going. The  endeavour to keep going, and keep knocking on the door and to find a way to score. You have to praise the players. I said well done.

”We had terrific energy in the first half. We didn’t deserve to be a goal down. West Brom are the masters of being hard to beat.

“We’ve been in the games. We have to try and take three points. Their quality to keep going was terrific. They kept at it. I was glad we could.

“I didn’t think we had played that badly to be a goal down.”

It did not mask the seriousness of the situation. Sunderland have taken a single point from home games with Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.

“We see it as two points dropped, not a point gained,” he added.

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