Two second-half strikes from Marvin Sordell sealed victory for Dougie Freedman’s men in their FA Cup third-round replay against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Wanderers were awarded a 64th-minute penalty after Jack Colback was adjudged to have fouled Darren Pratley inside the area, and Sordell would send Simon Mignolet the wrong way from 12 yards.
The England under-21 international doubled the Trotters’ advantage minutes later as he fired a close-range effort past the Sunderland stopper after good work from Tyrone Mears.
A vocal travelling support were also buoyed by the return of Stuart Holden who was a 74th-minute substitute, as the Whites held on to seal a fourth round date with Premier League outfit Everton on 26 January.
Wanderers made six changes from the weekend’s draw with Millwall. Andy Lonergan, Mears, Josh Vela, Darren Pratley, Benik Afobe and Sordell all returned to the starting line-up, while long-term absentee Holden made his return to the Trotters’ first team, but had to settle for a place on the Whites’ bench.
Neither side managed to get a foot on the game in a scrappy opening 10 minutes. Wanderers looked the most likely to break the deadlock, stringing together some neat passing across the middle, before Zat Knight’s header from a Chris Eagles corner tested Black Cats keeper Mignolet.
Stephane Sessegnon created the hosts’ first chance of the night. The midfielder made his way into the Bolton penalty area and his shot almost found it’s way through to Connor Wickham, but the ball was cleared to safety by Marcos Alonso.
The Black Cats were beginning to see more of the ball and a short Adam Johnson free-kick found Craig Gardner on the edge of the area, but he couldn’t repeat his heroics from the Reebok and fired narrowly over the bar.
Sunderland’s Johnson almost found the game’s opening goal soon after. The former England international weaved his way into the Whites’ penalty area, but his powerful effort was superbly pushed over by the in-form Lonergan.
Martin O’Neill’s team were in the ascendency and the Bolton stopper would once again repel the Black Cats’ attack as he acrobatically finger tipped Johnson’s free-kick around the post. And from the resulting corner Titus Bramble struck a close-range effort inches wide, but the scores remained goalless at the break.
Sunderland almost found the game's opening goal three minutes into the second half, but Gardner’s 25-yard free-kick went narrowly wide of Lonergan’s far post.
Wanderers remained a threat going forward. Alonso first saw his effort go wide from the edge of the area, before Sordell was able to pounce on a lose ball and found himself through on goal, but his low drive from an acute angle was straight at the diving Mignolet.
The visitors were enjoying a sustained spell of possession and Alonso’s ball across the area managed to find it’s way through to Eagles, but his first-time shot went over the bar.
Wanderers were then awarded a 64th-minute penalty by referee Kevin Friend. Eagles won possession in the Sunderland half and slid a perfectly weighted ball through to Pratley who was upended by Jack Colback. Sordell stepped up to send Mignolet the wrong way to give the Whites the lead on Wearside.
Johnson almost found an immediate reply for O’Neill’s side, but his effort from the edge of the area flew harmlessly wide, before the Whites doubled their lead six minutes later.
Mears was able to find space down the right flank and managed to make his way into the box. He played a ball into the feet of Sordell who turned and fired a low shot pass Mignolet.
Sunderland began to throw everything forward in search for a way back into the tie. Gardner would first go close from a free-kick before substitute Sebastian Larsson fired a powerful strike straight at keeper Lonergan, as a resolute Bolton defence hung on forl victory.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Gardner, Wickham (Campbell 71), Kilgallon, Colback (Cattermole 76), Vaughan, Bramble, Johnson (Larsson 71), McClean, Sessegnon (Unused subs: Westwood, McFadden, Saha)
Wanderers: Lonergan, Mears, Knight, Ricketts, Alonso, Vela (Holden 74), Spearing, Pratley, Afobe (Chung-Yong 70), Eagles, Sordell (K Davies 85) (Unused subs: Bogdan, Ream, Odelusi, Ngog)