Sunderland 4 West Bromwich Albion 0

West Bromwich Albion’s frustrating season went from bad to worse as they suffered a heavy defeat at relegation rivals Sunderland.

Sloppy defending allowed the managerless Black Cats to go 3-0 by half-time and although they produced an improved second-half performance, Albion again wasted the scoring chances that would have dragged them back into the game.

Manager Tony Mowbray said his side could have no complaints about this defeat. “It was a tough afternoon,” he said. “I can’t sit here and complain about anything.

“We didn’t compete in the first half. If anything, it epitomised our season. In the first 20 minutes, we looked fine and comfortable and then the first couple of balls came into our box and we were 2-0 down. It’s not a part of the team I’ve really been over-concerned about recently but today we didn’t defend our box well enough. The first couple of times we got asked any questions, we conceded goals. We didn’t defend well enough today. That’s the bottom line.”

Kenwyne Jones opened the scoring when he profited from some non-existent marking to head past Scott Carson, then Jones tapped in after two fine saves by Carson.

Andy Reid made it three before half-time with a back-post header from Steed Malbranque’s cross and Djibril Cisse then drilled in from the penalty spot in the second half after Roman Bednar’s handball.

Luke Moore replaced Ishmael Miller, who has been ruled out for the season after damaging cruciate knee ligaments last weekend, as the lone striker but Albion struggled to keep the ball to build any attacks.

The Baggies are now six points from safety and have picked up just two points from their last ten games as they go into the Christmas period. They have also scored just 12 goals in 17 games, the lowest in the league, so the arrival of at least one new striker in the January transfer window must be a priority.

However, the Baggies boss said morale was not a problem and urged his side to get back to basics.

“We need to put this defeat behind us very, very quickly and get on with the next game,” he added. “It’s just one less opportunity for us to get another three points.

“I think the players do understand where we are. We need to get back to doing basic things like competing on a football field. I’m pretty sure that will happen.

“If we win next week, the week after and the week after and we’re mid-table, then great. In the second half today, we competed better.

“I don’t see the morale of the team as being a problem.  We need a cutting edge because most weeks we’ve been in the game and have wasted chances and we wasted chances in the second half.

“If you don’t score goals in any games, at any level, you don’t win. I think the evidence was there today, looking at the Sunderland strikers. They were a constant menace. Every week I sit and talk about the strikers on the opposition that are a menace. This was no different.”