Big Sam reflects on Sunderland draw

Sam Allardyce was in philosophical mood after watching his West Ham United side draw a match they should have won but could easily have lost against Sunderland.

The Hammers outplayed the Black Cats for long periods at the Boleyn Ground, but went into added time trailling Steven Fletcher's ninth-minute goal after missing a succession of chances.

Big Sam's players refused to give up hope of fashioning an equaliser, though, and were rewarded when captain Kevin Nolan smashed a low shot past the previously unbeatable Simon Mignolet in the 93rd minute, sparking wild celebrations among the home faithful and on the home bench.

Speaking exclusively to West Ham TV, the manager hailed his players for safeguarding their unbeaten home record this season, but lamented the lack of clinical finishing that cost his team two points.

"If we had come out on the losing side, it would have been our own fault because of our lack of quality when it came to finishing chances," said Big Sam. "That would have been a very difficult thing to stomach considering the way we played and the amount of chances we created.

"We are happy we have got a point - when you score in the last minute you always feel that way, irrespective of the fact we were the dominant force throughout the game. We dominated the game, created the majority of the chances, yet we were still going into the 91st-minute a goal down.

"The joy and the relief of getting a goal at the time was exceptionally good but the reality is that we should have won this game handsomely. We coped brilliantly after going a goal down, it was brilliant finish from Steven Fletcher but to let ourselves down with failing to take the chances we created is disappointing. In my position as the manager I have to tell the players 'Well done for equalising after being a goal down in added time', but you also have to say look we battered them."

Big Sam pointed to the match statistics, which showed West Ham had 'battered' the Black Cats, as he had rightly pointed out. Unfortunately, all the manager and his players had to show for their efforts was captain Nolan's dramatic late equaliser.

That West Ham were a goal down to start with owed much to the home side giving possession away inside their own half and then failing to prevent an in-form Fletcher from controlling and finishing from inside the penalty area.

"They had three for shots on goal and we have north of 15. We hit the bar, we shot wide and when we got them on target, which we didn't do enough, their 'keeper pulled off a host of fantastic saves. Luckily Kevin Nolan popped up when it mattered with a fantastic finish, in what was a very crowded box indeed. We thoroughly deserved it but overall it is a mixture of joy and disappointment.

"We, of course, have to be slightly disappointed with the nature of how we conceded but you get punished heavily in this league. I keep saying that the way teams will punish you is by capitalising on your mistakes and with a £14 million striker who is on song, you knew when it fell to him that it was going to end up in the back of the net.

"I don't think he had another shot on goal, but he was clinical and we need to follow him in that sense - we showed it against Fulham and we need to show it again."

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While Fletcher converted his only real chance, West Ham passed up a host of chances, either shooting or heading off-target or finding their way blocked by Belgium international Mignolet.

"Our set-pieces were very strong, but we had headers from Winston Reid and James Collins that more often than not hit the back of the net. Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te also had chances from around six yards out but they failed to hit the target - those are the chances we need to turn into goals.

"It was looking like it was going to be a disappointing afternoon but right after the death we showed that quality and Kev popped up with a fantastic finish to get us a point. We had 19 crosses go into the box in the second half from left and right and I think the majority of those came via the boot of Matt Jarvis.

"He put an extra bit of pressure on the opposition that allowed us to remain on the front foot. We knew it would be difficult to break Sunderland down and in the end they had ten men camped in their own box or just outside. They wanted to hang onto their lead which meant we had to be clever and getting it wide was the way to do that. We mixed the play up well and in the end it paid off. It should have paid off more handsomely but it paid off."

Having maintained their unbeaten start at the Boleyn Ground, West Ham return to action on home soil in the Capital One Cup third round on Tuesday evening, when Wigan Athletic are the visitors.

Big Sam made a host of changes to his starting XI for the second-round victory over Crewe Alexandra - handing starts to the likes of Gary O'Neil, Alou Diarra and Dan Potts - and is likely to do the same against the Latics. A number of the club's in-form youngsters could also get the nod after starring in Friday's 4-1 Barclays U21 Premier League win over Arsenal at Rush Green.

"I think that Wigan will come down here and make seven or eight changes to the side that played on Saturday, they did it against Nottingham Forest and we did the same against Crewe Alexandra. We have got George McCartney who is returning from injury and hasn't been able to get his place back and James Tomkins who hasn't started many games and is desperate to get more competitive games under his belt.

"We have Dan Potts, Gary O'Neil, Alou Diarra, Modibo Maiga who could all come in and play a part and also Matt Jarvis who didn't start the game on Saturday. We will have a strong side out mixed with a few of our Under-21s who are creating headlines following a string of very good performances.

"They beat Arsenal 4-1 on Friday and they need to come into the squad to get a feel for first team football, maybe from the bench but a couple may even start. We will go out and try and continue our run because we are undefeated at home, that is one thing I am very glad we didn't give up on Saturday because I think that is now nine games without a defeat at the Boleyn Ground.