It was vital that we got a win from today’s game, if we are to stay up we must beat teams around us and Bolton will definitely be in and around the bottom half for the remainder of the season. Kieran Richardson made his first start since August, replacing Ross Wallace who was injured in training on Friday. Liam Miller was back after been suspended for three games and went straight into the centre of midfield to partner Dickson Etuhu, Dwight Yorke dropped out of the squad completely. Andy Cole replaced Martyn Waghorn who’d had an impressive debut for the lads against United.
It was imperative that we started well and got out of the traps quickly against a tough tackling Bolton team and not allow them to take any control of the game. Thankfully we did just that, generally we have been quite slow at the beginning of games and maybe that is why we score so many late goals but today was different. We were dictating the pace of the game and playing good football. Though, we could have found ourselves behind after 10 minutes, if Danny Collins, who’s been a rock in defence this season, hadn’t made a fantastic challenge on Kevin Davies.
Just two minutes later we were in front. Kenwyne Jones picked out Richardson, after some fantastic play by the Trinidad and Tobago striker, who was to his left; Richardson unleashed a terrific first time shot past Jaaskelainen. Cue eruption in the Stadium of Light, a massive sense of relief is felt all around the stadium. Unlike the Man United game, we were battling for everything and showing the fight we need to have in the coming months. We were quite clearly the better team but we needed a second to relax ourselves, not into thinking the game would be sealed, but to take some of the nerves away from having just the one goal.
Twelve minutes before half time the second goal came and it was Richardson and Jones who were again heavily involved. Richardson however, was the provider this time with a beautifully delivered corner from the right, which needed a simple glancing header into the corner from Jones. Out came the sumersault from Jones.
We were quite comfortable and Bolton never really looked like threatening Craig Gordon’s goal that was to change when they were awarded a free kick ten yards outside the box on the right wing. Gordon appeared to be left flat footed after some movement in front of him and Diouf’s free kick squeezed into the bottom corner, an undeserved goal for Bolton.
Half Time: 2-1
Kieran Richardson almost gave us another two goal cushion just minutes into the second half, his audacious attempt from all of 35-yards was tipped over from Jaaskelainen. This was to be one of only two efforts on goal in the second half. The rest of the time was spent with our backs against the wall as we invited pressure from Bolton. Although Bolton enjoyed a great deal of possession Gordon never had to make a save, the defence, who’ve come in for a large amount of criticism, coped fantastically well with Bolton’s attacking play. The only negative was, unfortunately, we sat far too deep and could have avoided some of the pressure we found ourselves under.
Wave after wave of Bolton attacks came to nothing thanks to the hard work and determination of everyone of the Sunderland players, no one hid as in other games, which was very encouraging to see.
Kenwyne Jones added a second assist to his name today with the third goal, which came in injury time. Daryl Murphy got the third and the striker showed great strength to get past his man and smash the ball home, which came from a flick on by Jones. A second half which definitely can’t be good for our health, though that’s what comes with supporting Sunderland.
Full Time: 3-1
MOTM – A very difficult decision as there were some great performances today. However, Kieran Richardson was the one who stood out for me with some fantastic pieces of skill and showed great ability.