Keith Hill’s men were denied their first victory of the Sky Bet League One campaign after Aiden McGeady’s injury time penalty cancelled out Jack Hobbs’ opener to send both teams home with a shared point.
Substitute Yoan Zouma inadvertently handled in his own box just moments after the fourth official indicted five minutes of added time were to be played.
McGeady sent his spot kick emphatically past the previously unbeatable Remi Matthews to salvage a point for the Black Cats.
Hobbs’ first goal of the season looked to have been enough for the hosts who were excellent value for their lead.
Manager Hill had kept the same starting XI from the side that drew against Oxford United in midweek – and it wasn’t long before they showed the same impressive attacking intent that entertained the University of Bolton Stadium faithful that evening.
Both Thibaud Verlinden and Dennis Politic on opposing flanks were full of trickery and positivity and seldom gave the Sunderland full backs any respite.
Matthews had another standout performance for Wanderers and made several crucial stops throughout the contest.
Indeed, he was pressed into action early on and came racing off his line to get thwart George Dobson who had been played in by Denver Hume.
A clever step over by Politic saw him create some space to carve a shooting opportunity which culminated in him striking the post.
Will Grigg should have done better when he latched on to Chris Maguire’s right sided cross only to place his header wide.
Lynden Gooch found Grant Leadbitter in acres of space but the midfielder sent his 20-yarder over the bar.
The visitors were now starting to find their feet and Matthews was on top form to keep out Maguire who had been set up by Gooch.
Tom Flanagan then headed wide as the Black Cats were looking to capitalise on their spell of pressure.
The dynamic Jason Lowe, who was excelling in midfield alongside the outstanding Liam Bridcutt, narrowly volleyed wide after cushioning the ball on his chest from Verlinden’s smart centre.
The on-loan Belgian winger was certainly having the better of Hume and after cutting inside the Sunderland full back he hit his shot just wide of goal.
Hume was replaced during the interval after enduring a torrid time with Conor McLaughlin coming on.
Then Wanderers took a deserved lead after Verlinden’s free kick on the far side was headed across goal by Buckley allowing Hobbs to stab home from close range.
Moments later, the visitors thought they had equalised when Luke O’Nien turned Maguire’s cross towards goal only for Matthews to keep out the strike with the assistance of a past.
The visitors were upping the tempo and wasted several more chances as the game appeared to be slipping away from them.
In Matthews they found a keeper in top form and his double save to keep out McGeady’s curling strike and another block to prevent Gooch shortly afterwards was nothing short of sublime.
But Sunderland had the last laugh when their persistence resulted in Zouma’s unfortunate error of judgement allowed McGeady to slam home from six yards to get a point for the visitors.
Wanderers XI: Matthews Emmanuel, Lowe, Hobbs, Wright, Buckley, Crawford, Chicksen, Verliden, Politic, Bridcutt (C)
Subs: Alexander, Murphy, Weir, Darcy, Zouma, Brown, Senior.