Henderson provides hammer blow
Jordan Henderson's first goal of the season sent West Ham back to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table as Sunderland ended their recent revival with a 1-0 victory.
The 20-year-old England international struck 11 minutes before the break to give his side an advantage they refused to surrender despite second half pressure from the visitors.
Victor Obinna came closest to snatching a point with a 79th-minute effort which hit the outside of the post, but the Black Cats were good value for a victory which left them in seventh place.
Manager Steve Bruce has spent much of the season to date pleading with his midfielders to help out strikers Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan on the goals front, and Henderson's contribution will have been as welcome to him as it was to the bulk of a crowd of 36,940 on a bitterly cold Wearside afternoon.
The hosts started the game in far brighter fashion, and their cause might have been helped had referee Martin Atkinson ruled that Luis Boa Morte's two-footed seventh-minute challenge on Kieran Richardson was worthy of a red rather than a yellow card.
As the first half wore on Sunderland started to threaten on a more regular basis and, after Bent had warmed Robert Green's hands with a dipping long-range shot, they forced their way ahead 11 minutes before the break. Record signing Gyan, back in the starting line-up in place of Bolo Zenden, found space down the right before squaring for Henderson to guide the ball deftly past Green.
Danny Welbeck clipped the bar with a curling shot two minutes later, but the Hammers might have got themselves back on to level terms with 44 minutes gone.
The Hammers returned after half-time in determined mood and might have wiped out Sunderland's lead within four minutes. John Mensah slipped as Carlton Cole turned on Obinna's pass and drilled a left-foot shot across Craig Gordon, but unfortunately for him, just wide of the far post.
The Hammers might have snatched a point with 11 minutes remaining when Obinna picked up possession inside the box and blasted towards Gordon's bottom right-hand corner, only to see the ball clip the outside of the post and drop to safety.
However, Sunderland should have killed off the Hammers once and for all with five minutes remaining. Substitute Steed Malbranque went into a 50-50 with Green and saw the ball come back off the keeper and fall to Welbeck, only for James Tomkins to get in a vital block as the fans behind the goal waited for the net to bulge.