Bryan Robson admitted that annoyance with referee Phil Dowd over his role in Sunderland's goal didn't abdicate his own players from responsibility.

A win against Sunderland, who had garnered a meagre six points from 22 games, would have increased their safety buffer to six points, but defeat leaves them only three points ahead of third-bottom Birmingham City.

Robson is convinced that Darren Carter was fouled by Liam Lawrence in the build-up to Steve Watson's own goal 19 minutes from time. Yet, he confessed that there were other factors that caused Albion to slip to their most humiliating defeat of the campaign.

Robson said: "I have got two complaints. Firstly, the way the players went about their job in the second half and secondly, how can the referee miss the foul on Darren Carter on the halfway line?

"It is a really poor decision by him, as that's the only time Sunderland have really had a shot on target. I thought the first half wasn't too bad, as we had a couple of situations where we should have done better. However, the second half was very disappointing.

"I don't know whether the game in midweek against Reading going to extra time took something out of my play-ers; it certainly looked that way as there were quite a few of them below par."

Robson had no complaints with the home support who jeered the players off at full-time.

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"They are going to be disappointed," he continued. "If you lose against the bottom team in the division, who have only got six points on the board, then they your fans aren't going to be happy.

"We made it difficult for ourselves with our passing and people not taking responsibility. It was a scrappy performance but, even then, we should have come away with a point.

"If you aren't going to be in the relgation fight, then you need to win games like this one. We didn't and that is why we will be in the fight."