After last Saturday's stirring 3-1 victory over Spurs at the Stadium of Light Sunderland again showed that they are a very different prospect away from home. Defeat to struglers West Ham was the Wearsiders 12th defeat on their travels in a campaign that has given the club's loyal away folllowing just one victory to cheer.
This was the first win in eight games for Gianfranco Zola's side who just about deserved all three points. None of Steve Bruce's players emerged with much credit as they struggle to match the commitment shown by opposition who were battling for their lives.
During a very subdued first half the biggest talking point was whether Craig Gordon should have been given his marching orders.
Minutes after receiving a yellow card for allegedly handling outside of the penalty area the Scotland number one wrapped his arms arms around Cole's waist as the Hammers' top scorer was bearing down on an open goal. Fortunatley for Gordon referee Mike Jones penalised Cole for committing a foul on the keeper when he won the ball.
Shortly after the break Sunderland were caught with a sucker punch as Brazilian striker Ilan prodded home Cole's downward header from Manuel Da Costa's punted free kick.
The goal lifted the home crowd but failed to stir Sunderland from their torpor.
Lee Cattermole, who'd been yellow-carded in the first half, along with David Meyler struggled to make any headway in the middle of the park. A rasping drive from Cattermole that flew over the bar was a rare flash of quality from the Stockton-on-Tees born player.
Kenwyne Jones came on for Meyler and with his first touch teed up Bent but the 22-goal-man slipped when clean through on Robert Green's goal. Jordan Henderson went close with a free kick on the edge of the area but Sunderland struggled to create any clear cut chances from open play.
West Ham had a late goal chalked off whern Guillermo Franco handled before firing past Gordon. Sunderland were furious when the referee stopped them from taking a free kick as the Hammers players celebrated what they thought had been a second goal.
Bolo Zenden and Benjani made late cameo appearances but this was yet another forgettable away performance by the Black Cats.
WEST HAM (4-5-1): Green;Faubert,Upson,Da Costa, Spector;Stanislas(Franco 78),Kovac,Noble,Behrami Ilan (Daprela(90);Cole. Subs (not used): Kurucz(gk),Gabidon,McCarthy,Diamanti,Spence
Sunderland(4-4-2: Gordon;Ferdinand,Turner,Da Silva (Benjani 87),Richardson,Henderson,Cattermole,Meyler (Jones 62),Malbranque(Zenden 72);Campbell,Bent. Subs (not used):Carson,Bardsley,Kigallon,Hutton
Referee Mike Jones (Chester)