Wed 02 May 12
at 11:45 AM
Report: Sunderland 2 Bolton 2
Bolton registered their first away draw of the Premier League season as Kevin Davies' double helped to earn an important point at the Stadium of Light.
The captain nudged Bolton ahead midway through the first half when he converted Martin Petrov's dinked centre, but the Black Cats were level on 36 minutes when Nicklas Bendtner equalised with a low finish across and past Adam Bogdan.
After David Ngog had hit the bar at the end of the first half, Sunderland turned the game on its head when James McClean netted a 30-year free-kick ten minutes after the restart.
But Wanderers' battling spirit once again came to the fore when Davies headed in his second of the game with 20 minutes remaining.
Substitute Ivan Klasnic almost won it late on, however Craig Gordon saved well with his legs.
Owen Coyle made two changes to the Bolton side from the win at Aston Villa four days earlier. As expected, Kevin Davies returned in a 4-4-2 formation to partner David Ngog in attack. At right-back, Dedryck Boyata replaced Gretar Steinsson.
The Whites started where they left off at Villa Park, taking the game to Sunderland in the opening exchanges.
Chris Eagles saw a free-kick from outside the box flash narrowly wide of the target, while Nigel Reo-Coker's surging run forward from midfield ended with a long-range shot that missed the target by just a few inches.
After weathering Bolton's early dominance, Sunderland began to get a foot into the game. Bendtner found space outside the area, but he too was off-target.
After Mark Davies had brought Craig Gordon into the action with a low skidding effort and Ngog headed over, Kevin Davies put Bolton ahead with 26 minutes on the clock.
Martin Petrov swung over one of his trademark crosses from the left and the captain ghosted in at the far post to plant a low finish into the back of the net from six yards out.
The hosts didn't seem too disheartened despite going a goal behind and they came roaring back into the game ten minutes later when Bendtner converted his second chance of the game.
Matthew Kilgallon had glanced a header inches wide of the post in the previous attack, but Sunderland's on-loan Arsenal man made no mistake when presented with a clear opening following Jack Colback's precise slide-rule pass.
After getting back on level terms, Sunderland really did have the wind in their sails, roared on further by the home support.
They pinned the Bolton defenders back inside their own box in the moments leading up to the interval, most notably when Tim Ream was forced into a scrambled clearance under his own crossbar.
Sunderland now looked the most likely, however, on the stroke of half-time it was Bolton who almost stole the lead for a second time when a quick counter-attack involving Eagles and Kevin Davies resulted in Ngog hitting the crossbar via a palmed save from Gordon.
Such are the fine margins, the woodwork came to Sunderland's benefit ten minutes after the restart as James McClean put the home side in front with a 30 yard free-kick.
After Stephane Sessegnon had been decked by Kevin Davies, the left-winger stepped up to bend his effort up and over the wall, with Bogdan getting a hand to the ball before it ricocheted off the bar and over the line.
Owen Coyle sensed that there was still something to be gained and with that in mind, Ryo Miyaichi and Ivan Klasnic were thrown into the action with 25 minutes remaining, and it wasn't long before Wanderers regained parity.
Davies found himself in the right place at the right time to make the score 2-2, comfortably beating Craig Gordon with a low header from close-range after Sam Ricketts had swung in a pinpoint cross. It was game on again.
As the minutes ticked by, Bolton continued to push on in search of what would be the fifth and decisive goal of the game. And Klasnic thought he'd bagged it, not once but twice.
Firstly the Croatian flashed a shot inches wide of the post, before Gordon pulled off the save of the game late on, sticking out a boot after the number 17 had, in typical fashion, spun and fired goalwards.
All in all, it was another important point for Wanderers, who now find themselves on a three-match unbeaten run and have taken 14 points from the last 24 available.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley,Turner, Kilgallon (Bridge 82), O'Shea, Colback, Cattermole, Sessegnon, McClean, Campbell (Elmohamady 70), Bendtner (Subs not used: Westwood, Vaughan, Ji, Meyler, Kyrgiakos)
Bolton: Bogdan, Boyata, Ream, Wheater, Ricketts, Eagles (Ryo 64), Reo-Coker (Vela 77), Mark Davies, Petrov, Ngog (Klasnic 64), Kevin Davies (Subs not used: Alonso, Knight, Jaaskelainen, Sordell)