David Moyes should have been reflecting on some crumbs of comfort as Sunderland belatedly displayed a little-seen backbone, but instead the manager was left to fend-off question about strains in his relationship with both supporters and some of his players.
The drought is over but the pain continues. Moyes had the consolation of seeing his side score their first goal since early February, as they secured a late point through substitute Fabio Borini to deny West Ham a victory that would have all-but guaranteed their continued presence in the Premier League next season.
It's been one of those seasons for the beleaguered Scot who it appears cannot do right for doing wrong. After thrashing home a 90th-minute equaliser when goalkeeper Darren Randolph failed to deal with Darron Gibson's ball into the box, Borini's pointed 40-yard run and celebratory knee slide in front of the manager stationed in his technical area suggested that all is not well between the pair. "I don't care where he celebrated," Moyes insisted. "I'm just delighted he scored."
Instead of taking credit as Wahbi Khazri, restored to the side for the first time in more than five months, became the first Sunderland player to find the net in 701 minutes' football, Moyes was instead derided by supporters for his refusal to previously entertain the first-team chances of a player who thrived under Sam Allardyce.
The Tunisia international had made only one more start for club than country this season before his reintroduction, so it was unsurprising to hear "are you watching David Moyes?" from the stands as the Sunderland players dusted off celebrations not required since their four-goal blitz at Crystal Palace 70 days previously. "I can only tell you it's been my choice to play other people and not Wahbi because of what I've seen," insisted the manager, who was jeered by sections of fans each time he ventured from his dugout.
"That's to be expected because me and the team are not doing well just now," he added. "The supporters have been fantastic, but when things are not going well, they deserve to take their frustrations out on managers and players."
Time momentarily stood still in the 26th minute as the Stadium of Light came to terms with the previously incomputable occurrence of a player clad in red and white troubling the scorers, Khazri's in-swinging corner sailing over Edmilson Fernandes guarding the near post, to find the net via the far post as Victor Ahichebe expertly impeded Randolph's efforts to pursue the flight of the ball.
A clear foul? "Not in England," West Ham manger Slaven Bilic reflected. Refusing to single out his goalkeeper for what would be justified criticism, Bilic added: "I'm not pointing the finger at anyone. We score goals as a team, and we concede them as a team."
Khazri's first Premier League goal in approaching a year cancelled out Andre Ayew's fifth-minute opener. Andy Carroll's misdirected far post volley from Sam Byram's cross fell invitingly for the Ghanaian to take a touch before poking his fifth goal of the season into the bottom corner from close range. Ayew should have put his side ahead for a second time in near identical circumstances, but it took less than two minutes after the restart for James Collins to glance a Robert Snodgrass corner beyond Jordan Pickford from inside the six-yard box.
It must be Easter!!! Khazri and Borini are back from the deeeed!!! Hawaaaaayyyyyy! ��⚪️��⚪️— Roker Report (@RokerReport) April 15, 2017
Didier Ndong sent a clear opening into orbit as Sunderland pressed for an equaliser. Even with Borini's late intervention, a draw isn't much use to the hosts, who are nine points adrift of safety and already into must-win territory. The late exit of defender Billy Jones on a stretcher suffering from concussion after banging his head on the ground in a challenge with Arthur Masuaku only added to the air of despondency.
The hosts failed to find a winner even with a numerical advantage in the 10 minutes' stoppage time as Byram earned a second yellow card for a foul on Adnan Januzaj. "Billy's gone to hospital, but he's fine," Moyes added.
The prognosis for Sunderland's Premier League future isn't as optimistic.