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Mignolet accentuates the positives as Sunderland remain unbeaten
SIMON Mignolet insists Sunderland can take a lot of confidence from their opening four Premier League matches – even though their search for a first win goes on.
The Black Cats looked like recording their maiden success on Saturday when Steven Fletcher's first-half goal gave them a 1-0 lead as their game with West Ham entered stoppage time.
But Kevin Nolan 's dramatic late strike earned the Hammers a point and condemned Sunderland to their fourth draw in succession.
The result leaves Martin O'Neill's side in the bottom half of the table, but Mignolet feels his team-mates can still be satisfied with their start.
“It's a tough balance,” said the Belgian goalkeeper, who made a fantastic first-half save to deny Nolan and temporarily keep his side's advantage intact.
“We're unbeaten towards the end of September so that's obviously very positive, but we're also aware that we haven't been able to get our first league win yet.
“We have four points, and if you look at the overall picture after four games, I suppose we might have had a few more. I think we probably deserved more, but I don't think we can be disappointed with the way we have played in those four games. Everybody has put in a shift in those matches.”
Nevertheless, Nolan's goal was the fourth time Sunderland have conceded a lead this season, a record that hints at a degree of defensive fragility that has undermined Fletcher's goalscoring efforts at the other end.
Mignolet accepts the Black Cats switched off at the worst possible moment at the weekend, enabling Nolan to slot home after Modibo Maiga helped on Matt Jarvis' pull back, but denies the lapse was part of a more deep-rooted problem.
“I don't think it's fair to draw with comparisons with the last two games,” he said. “They've all been very different situations. The other games were played in a different way to this one. It's obviously disappointing to concede a goal in the last minute when you know you have done your job well for the rest of the game. That wasn't really the case in the other games.
“When you get into stoppage time, you shouldn't be conceding goals. Like the rest of the lads, I feel that if we had defended like we had for the rest of the game, we wouldn't have conceded such a stupid goal at the end.”
West Ham's equaliser came at the end of a spell of intensive pressure, with Sam Allardyce's side propelling a succession of long balls into the Sunderland box. The ploy paid dividends in the end, but Mignolet has questioned the desirability of such an unrefined style.
“If they were going to get anything it was always going to be that way because I think they play very poor football,” he said. “The only thing they do is play it long, but I suppose if they want to play that way, it's their choice. And I guess it paid off in the end.
“It was a tough one to take because we'd defended superbly to that point, but if everyone does their job for 94 minutes then it doesn't happen. We did what we had to do before then, but one long ball dropped wrong and that enabled them to get a point.”