As much as people scoffed at the £12m Sunderland paid to sign Steven Fletcher from Wolves, it is impossible to argue with his ability in front of goal. Fletcher might not be the most fashionable or glamorous player around but there are few strikers in the Premier League who are as deadly as him at the moment and his fourth goal in three games looked like earning Sunderland their first win of the season, only for Kevin Nolan's last-minute equaliser for West Ham to deny them.
For long periods, the difference between the two sides was who they could pick up front. While Sunderland had Fletcher in their attack, West Ham were forced to use the reliably frustrating Carlton Cole in their front three, Andy Carroll still absent with the hamstring injury he suffered on his debut against Fulham. His return to fitness cannot happen quickly enough.
West Ham came into this match having not conceded a goal at home in their first three matches in all competitions, only to shoot themselves in the foot after 10 minutes with a woeful piece of defending. Under no pressure at all, James Collins hit a dreadful pass to Sebastian Larsson, whose beautiful chipped pass found Fletcher on the left side of the area. He took the ball down with one touch and hit a left footed-volley that Juusi Jaaskelainen should have saved into the left corner.
Gradually West Ham found their feet and were unlucky not to be level by the break. First Ricardo Vaz Te sent Matthew Taylor's cross wide with a downward header that bounced up and past the post, before Kevin Nolan hooked an overhead kick wide from a Cole flick-on. Nolan then went even closer just before half time, only to see his acrobatic volley from Vaz Te's cross brilliantly palmed aside by Simon Mignolet.
The pressure grew ever more intense in the second half as West Ham became even more direct than usual, flinging crosses, corners and free-kicks into the box at every opportunity. Sunderland dealt with the aerial barrage competently however and when Collins' header hit the bar with 15 minutes left, it looked like West Ham would succumb to their first defeat at home this season. Instead as the match entered stoppage time, a loose ball broke to Nolan 15 yards out and he swivelled to beat Mignolet with a firm volley into the bottom-right corner.