Football: Sunderland broke their four-game goal drought, but they are still without a win in their last seven following a brace from Bolton’s Kevin Davies which gave the visitors a vital point in their battle to beat the drop.
After the game, both managers had nothing but praise for the striker. “He’s been a fine player for quite some time,” said Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill. “He’s been very important to Bolton in their quest to stay in the League.” Little wonder that O’Neill tried to bring him to the Stadium of Light in January.
While he was disappointed that his side didn’t win the game he acknowledged that the eighth place three points would have given them would have left them in a flattering position.
For long periods Sunderland looked lacklustre, and lacked confidence and invention as their control and passing ability regularly deserted them. It was hard to tell which side was battling the drop and which was looking for a place in the top half of the table.
His opposite number Owen Coyle described it as a “crucial point,” but likewise was frustrated Wanderers didn’t take all three points. “We’ve taken four points from two away games and now we’re going to use that as a platform going into to two home games. It’s in our own hands.”
Bolton made the early running and what few chances there were fell their way, but for the open quarter of the match this was a dull affair, the most exciting exchange coming between stewards, police and a mass of home fans who refused to sit down.
Both Nigel Reo-Coker and Mark Davies went close for the visitors with long-range efforts in the first 10 minutes and David N’Gog headed over from close range. So it was little surprise when Wanderers took the lead. Martin Petrov broke down the left and as he did Kevin Davies drifted to the far edge of the six-yard area. No one went with him, so when Petrov found him he had both time and space to volley past Craig Gordon for the opener.
Going behind seemed to galvanise Sunderland. James McClean’s free kick evaded everyone and curled just past the far post. Then Fraizer Campbell went on mazy run into the Bolton area and found Stephane Sessegnon with his cross. Instead of hitting the ball first time, the Benin international took a touch. It was a poor one and his chance was gone. Just minutes later Jack Colback’s incisive pass split the Wanderers defence to find Nicklas Bendtner and the Dane made no mistake.
Just after the break McClean made it 2-1 with a super free kick which rose and curled over the wall. Adam Bogdan got a hand to it but could only palm it into the net. For a brief while Sunderland seemed to regain the confidence they had when O’Neill arrived at the club. However it was short-lived. With 20 minutes to play, Sam Ricketts worked an opening and Davies beat Matthew Kilgallon to head home.
From then on, it was a repeat of the opening period with Bolton dominating and looking the likeliest to take all three points, but it wasn’t to be. Coyle has three games to secure their place in the top-flight while Sunderland are left looking to the summer transfer window.
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