Peter Odemwingie capped off a dream debut as West Brom beat a disappointing Sunderland by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win. The home side bounced back from a 6-0 thrashing by dominating a game in which Sunderland rarely threatened to score. Chris Brunt controlled the match from midfield and early on played new boy Odemwingie through but the Nigerian forward could only put the ball wide of the post. James Morrison also seemed too much for Sunderland’s defence, firing wide and swinging a cross in for Brunt who could only head wide. West Brom seemed to be getting closer and Brunt almost scored the perfect opening goal at the Hawthorns when he met Marek Cech’s cross with a stunning overhead kick that flew just over.
The Baggies continued to press in the second half but still could not find the break through that would have give them the goal. After the hour mark Sunderland came alive for a few moments with Scott Carson having to tip Kieran Richardson’s shot over and then deal with Nedum Onuoha’s header. These chances, however, were all Sunderland could manage before West Brom got back onto the front foot and it was nine minutes from time when Morrison’s through ball was met by Odemwingie who slotted home. Moments later Brunt almost wrapped the game up but his long range effort cannoned off the bar.
Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo was pleased with the way his team bounced back: “We were looking for a reaction from the team and I think they responded vert well today. It was a great performance and a deserved win for us. We’ve got a pretty good record at home. We got a clean sheet and maybe could have scored a second goal, you can’t ask for more from your players. A lot has been made about last week’s defeat but I always had belief in my players. The played some fantastic stuff.” Di Matteo also admitted he was pleased to have James Morrison back: “Mozza is like a new signing for us because last year he missed virtually the whole season, he has done really well in pre-season and has worked very hard. He is in good shape and is a very good player for us.”
Odemwingie said the warm welcome that he received from the Baggies fans spurred him on to score the winner against the Black Cats. The striker said: “I was really impressed by the way the supporters welcomed me, when they called my name in the warm-up the whole stadium applauded. I wasn’t expecting this.” Adding: “This gave me confidence and I really felt good. Straight away I felt like one of their players and I thank them for this.” The Nigerian International admitted he had had a hectic week before joining the club: “I’ve had to travel a lot. I came from Korea which took a whole day and then I flew from London back to Moscow to wait for the paperwork to be done by both clubs. I tried to train a bit on my own as well so I was a little bit tired and stressed- the sudden change is not easy. But my team-mates made it easy for me, there are a lot of nice guys here.”
Travelling is one factor that has left Somen Tchoyi needing a few more weeks before he is ready for first team action at the club. Di Matteo stated: “Somen’s a bit behind fitness wise, he’s been travelling a lot to get his move sorted out. It will take him a while to get up to speed. It’s difficult to say if it will take two, three or four weeks. We’ll just keep assessing him on a day-to-day basis.”
Roberto Di Matteo confirmed that several clubs are interested in New Zealand international Chris Wood: “With Chris we know what we get and we have a number of clubs chasing him,” revealed Di Matteo. “But his situation is still the same – especially with Ishmael [Miller] injured. He would benefit from going on loan and playing week in, week out but I cannot afford to let him do that at the moment.”