Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Sunderland

  • February 20, 2018 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton picked up a huge result in their bid to remain in the Championship, as Zach Clough scored the only goal in victory over fellow strugglers Sunderland.

Clough, an academy graduate who returned on loan for a second spell at the club on transfer deadline day, scored the only goal with 17 minutes played at Macron Stadium, directing a free-kick from Filipe Morais beyond goalkeeper Lee Camp, who desperately appealed for a handball against the Wanderers forward.

Sunderland enjoyed the lion's share of the possession but rarely threatened in the final third, although they were denied a point in added time when substitute Callum McManaman saw a stinging drive tipped behind by Trotters 'keeper Ben Alnwick.

After falling to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, Phil Parkinson made six changes to his Bolton side - with Antonee Robinson, Reece Burke, Derik Osede and Tyler Walker all dropping to the substitutes' bench, while both Josh Vela (injury) and Mark Little (suspended) were left out completely.

In at their expense came Andrew Taylor, Dorian Dervite, Jem Karacan, Aaron Wilbraham, Morais and the eventual match-winner, Clough.

With the action underway, it was Sunderland who created the first opportunity of the evening. After stealing possession from Karl Henry, Ashley Fletcher ran into the Wanderers box before drilling a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal and out for a goal-kick.

The deadlock was broken on 17 minutes though, as the hosts were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Sammy Ameobi.

Morais took control of the dead-ball and whipped an outstanding delivery into the near post, where Clough pounced to send the ball beyond a flapping Camp at his near post. The Sunderland defence pleaded for a handball against the on-loan Nottingham Forest forward, but referee David Coote awarded the goal.

The Black Cats wasted a glorious chance to draw level on the half-hour, as Fletcher beat the offside trap to latch on to a pass from Lee Cattermole. With just Alnwick left to beat, Fletcher, who was once on the academy books at Bolton, took too much time and allowed the goalkeeper to make a comfortable save in a one-on-one situation.

Alnwick was alert once again to keep out a long-range drive from Paddy McNair moments later, shortly before Fletcher capitalised on a mistake from Mark Beevers prior to seeing a powerful strike deflect behind.

Fletcher shot into the side-netting in the final minute of the half, although he had already been flagged for offside, as Bolton took their one-goal advantage into the interval.

Neither manager made any half-time substitutions at the start of a second period which was slow to get going.

Wilbraham saw appeals for a penalty turned down eight minutes after the restart, while Karacan put his body on the line to head to safety just when it looked as though Fletcher was going to steal in unmarked at the far post.

With Sunderland starting to enjoy more of the ball, Parkinson responded by making a double change on the hour as Osede and Adam Le Fondre came on in place of Wilbraham and Clough.

The visitors responded with a substitution of their own as Aiden McGeady replaced Billy Jones, and his impact was almost immediate.

After David Wheater had conceded a free-kick right on the edge of his own box, McGeady smashed a free-kick into the Bolton wall, before seeing the ball cleared to safety by Taylor.

Ameobi saw a 30-yard effort deflect inches wide of Camp's right-hand post with little over quarter-of-an-hour to play, shortly before Le Fondre's attempt to replicate his recent goal against Fulham failed to pay off as his effort rippled the side-netting.

Le Fondre came even closer on 80 minutes, with his header from a Morais cross saved at point-blank range by Camp, before he turned provider for Karacan, whose shot beat the Sunderland goalkeeper before crashing back off the crossbar.

Despite his best attempts, Karacan just couldn't force the ball over the line, heading wide from the next attack, while Wheater and Beevers headed crosses away at the other end before Alnwick took responsibility to claim a cross from Fletcher.

In a bid to shore up his defence for six minutes of stoppage time, Parkinson introduced Burke in place of Karacan.

Bolton were their own worse enemies, however, as Beevers inexplicably sent a clearance straight into the path of McManaman. The former Wigan Athletic midfielder stepped inside before arrowing a shot towards the top corner, where Alnwick produced an outstanding save to ensure his side held on to claim all three points.

Victory moves Wanderers up to 19th place in the Championship table, four points and three places clear of the relegation zone. Sunderland, meanwhile, prop up the division - three points from safety and seven behind Parkinson's side.

The Trotters return to action on Saturday when they travel to Carrow Road - the home of Norwich City.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, A Taylor, Beevers, Wheater, Dervite, Morais, Karacan (Burke 90), Henry, Ameobi, Clough (Osede 60), Wilbraham (Le Fondre 59)
Subs Not Used: Howard, Flanagan, Robinson, Walker
Booked: Wheater, Henry, Morais, Ameobi
Goals: Clough 17

Sunderland: Camp, Kone, O'Shea, Clarke-Salter (Maja 73), Cattermole, Jones (McGeady 63), McNair, Honeyman, Oviedo, Asoro (McManaman 83), Fletcher
Subs Not Used: Steele, Williams, Love, Robson

Referee: David Coote
Attendance: 14,915

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


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