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Nolan leaves it late to deny Sunderland precious victory

Sunday, 23 September 2012 - 8:29am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Even accounting for an extended summer break, six months without a Premier League victory marks an unsettling run for Sunderland.

Even accounting for an extended summer break, six months without a Premier League victory marks an unsettling run for Sunderland.

Martin O'Neill's side appeared to be on course to finally end their barren streak at Upton Park thanks to Steven Fletcher's beautifully-taken early goal.

But the 12 million pounds summer signing's strike was cancelled out deep into injury time by Kevin Nolan, with the home side's battering ram approach finally paying dividends. It is now four consecutive draws to open the season for Sunderland, who last tasted a league victory on March 24, when they recorded a 3-1 success over QPR.

That must seem a long time ago now. Nine draws in that run of 12 games puts that spell into some context, but finding a way to win is proving worryingly elusive.

O'Neill said: "Obviously, we're disappointed, because we had looked as if we had dealt with just about everything they had thrown at us. But we were never able to kill the game off.

"We haven't won in 12 matches, but I'm not concerned. It's over two different seasons. If we had won it would have been five points from three games away from home which would have been a really good start to the season."

For West Ham, who were deprived of the services of the injured Andy Carroll, the result kept alive their unbeaten start to the season at home, even if it did end their 100 per cent record at the Boleyn Ground.

Eight points from their first five games is an encouraging start for Sam Allardyce's team on their return to the top flight and, while they sometimes lacked invention, they at least showed a fair degree of resolve and determination.

No one characterised that more than substitute Matt Jarvis, who chased a lost cause in the dying moments of his home debut to hook the ball back from the byline, allowing Mobido Maiga to head down and Nolan to lash home the equaliser.

It was an agonising blow for the visitors, who had led for more than 80 minutes. West Ham, who had not conceded a goal at home this season, were partly architects of their own downfall.

James Collins' disastrous clearance out of defence went straight to Sebastian Larsson, allowing him to pick out Fletcher with an angled ball to the far post.

The Scot's control was sublime, creating space for him to crash a low shot into the far corner past Jussi Jaaskelainen, who got a hand to the strike but could not sufficiently divert it.

While the goal perhaps should have opened up significant opportunities for Sunderland on the counter-attack they were unable to take advantage of any.

West Ham (4-2-3-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O'Brien; Noble, Diame; Vaz Te (Jarvis 57), Nolan, Taylor (Benayoun 57); Cole (Maiga 77).

Subs: Henderson (g), Tomkins, McCartney, O'Neil.

Booked: Reid, Jaaskelainen.

Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose; Larsson (Vaughan 62), Cattermole, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon (Campbell 71, Meyler 90+1); Fletcher. Subs: Westwood (g), Wickham, Kilgallon, Meyler, Saha.

Booked: Gardner.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).




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