Sunderland made the surprise choice of Craig Gordon as keeper, and he put in a creditable performance, and was blameless for the visitors’ two goals. Cattermole returned, and came away with his usual booking. Our line-up was 01 Gordon, 02 Bardsley, 04 Turner, 12 Kilgallon (Bridge - 82'), 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 14 Colback, 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 09 Campbell, (Elmohamady - 72'), 52 Bendtner.
Bolton made the short trip north, recalling Kevin Davies in this team: 01 Bogdan, 18 Ricketts, 25 Boyata, 31 Wheater, 32 Ream, 07 Eagles (Miyaichi - 64'), 10 Petrov, 16 M Davies, 19 Reo-Coker (Vela - 78'), 14 K Davies, 24 Ngog (Klasnic - 64').
We should have signed Kevin Davies in January. It is clear that over the winter Martin O’Neill had not had “that chat” with our owner and chairman, Ellis Short. He made what is rumoured to be a derisory offer, perhaps £250K for Kevin Davies, perhaps to try to move him from the Lancastrians’ wage bill onto ours, without breaking the bank. To be honest, I was surprised that our ex-centre back Sam Allardyce did not make a move for KD in the January window, as I am sure he would have guaranteed automatic promotion for the Hammers by now.
Basically we did very little in the first 35 minutes, with Bolton showing much greater determination, and they duly went ahead through a sweet Davies volley on 26 min. after Petrov's tempting cross from the left. But then a fabulous ball from Jack Colback found Nicklas Bendtner who controlled well before netting from 12 yards. The big Dane’s goal was Sunderland's first for 431 minutes – that is 7 hours and 11 minutes.
We scored a second 10 minutes into the second-half when James McClean’s delicious free-kick beat Bogdan. He picked up where Larsson has left off for his surgery break, and got over his recent profligacy in front of goal.
Bolton looked deflated, but Davies again lifted his team, when he outmuscled Kilgallon to head in an excellent cross from Sam Ricketts on 70 min.
Probably a fair result overall, each side had further chances. O’Neill was sad to miss out on victory. We somehow need to make sure our season does not end in a whimper, by going all-out for victory against Fulham, and by making sure that Man. Utd. do not have it all their own way at the Stadium of Light the following week.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen
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