STEVE Bruce insists Sunderland deserved at least a point at West Ham, after admitting his side were undone by a ‘stupid mistake’.
The Black Cats lost 1-0 at Upton Park, with the Hammers’ Brazilian striker Ilan taking advantage of a defensive lapse to score the goal just after half-time.
Bruce, though, pointed to the chances his side created as proof Sunderland deserved a draw against Gianfranco Zola’s relegation strugglers.
He said: “We came away from the game wondering how on earth we did not take anything from it.
“I could say that about half a dozen games this season at least, where we ended up frustrated and disappointed.
“Our mentality has to be better than that, and we have to eradicate the silly, stupid mistakes we make.
“We gave a poor goal away. We had spoken about it at half time – the long ball and the flick-on from Carlton Cole was about all West Ham had – but we did not deal with it.
“In the Premier League that is unforgivable and we have to take our medicine.
“We had a few chances but we did not take them, but I could not fault our honesty and endeavour – that was there for everyone to see.”
Bruce criticised referee Mike Jones for a series of poor decisions, which culminated in injury-time when he prevented Sunderland from taking a quick free-kick after West Ham’s Guillermo Franco had a goal disallowed for handball.
Bruce added: “The poor decisions came one after the other after the other.
“We all play badly sometimes, but the referee had a shocker today.
“You have to be honest – they are Premier League referees and the decision at the end not to allow us to take the free-kick was just... I have seen it a player stop you from taking a quick free-kick, but the referee? It was ridiculous.
“I asked him about it at the end and he said it would have been be unsporting.
“I have never seen that in the rules. Surely it was unsporting on us for him not to allow us to take it?
“Make no mistake, he blew his whistle and was standing over the ball and demanded people knew it was a free-kick.
“West Ham must have been celebrating for three minutes, yet he only added 30 seconds on!
“However, we still should have taken something from the game, no matter how poor the referee’s performance.”