SUNDERLAND were within seconds of their first Premier League win of the season only to concede a goal in injury time to former Newcastle United captain Kevin Nolan, writes Graeme Anderson.
The ex-Magpie capitalised on the umpteenth ball the Hammers lofted into the Sunderland penalty area after Matt Jarvis had pulled the ball back to Modibo Maiga, whose header into the danger area was hooked home from eight yards.
It was hard lines on Sunderland, who had fought doggedly all afternoon to hold on to Steven Fletcher’s 10th-minute opener.
The Scot’s fourth goal in three league games came after a smart interception by Seb Larsson on the right and the Swede’s cross was quickly controlled and despatched by the £12m man.
For the fourth time in four Premier League games, though, Sunderland found themselves on the back foot for most of the match – and Simon Mignolet made some impressive saves, notably from Nolan’s acrobatic volley.
Ricardo Vaz Te, Nolan (twice) and Carlton Cole all went close in the first half and, in the second period, West Ham heaped further pressure on the hosts.
It looked as though it was all going to be to no avail, but just as West Ham were staring down the barrel of only their second home defeat in 2012, up popped Black Cats’ nemesis Nolan to snatch a point.
* Full report in tonight’s Football Echo