We weren't sure what to expect from this match. Sunderland have troubled Bolton more often than not in the recent past, and this Bolton team is by no means unshakable. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of changes from the side that faced Leeds United in a dismal 1-0 loss. Zat Knight, Marcos Alonso, Chung-Yong Lee, and Darren Pratley were the only players that retained their spots in the starting lineup. Interesting inclusions were Andy Lonergan, who hasn't really been given a chance as Adam Bogdan has been fairly solid this season.Young Joe Riley was also involved, although he had to unfortunately come off early due to injury, and much-maligned Marvin Sordell.
To buck the recent trend of going behind early, Chung-Yong decided to get Bolton off to a great start, scoring in the 12th minute. Admittedly, he needed a pretty bad Sunderland mistake to do it. A bad clearance from Simon Mignolet gifted Chungy with the ball from 20 yards out, and he duly sent it into the empty net. That was the most exciting bit of an otherwise fairly quiet half.
Sunderland tested Lonergan several times, first from Craig Gardner on the 20th minute, and again from David Vaughn just a few minutes later, but both proved to be easy saves. Communication between the keeper and his players broke down in the 25th minute as Lonergan's punch went onto Darren Pratley's head, then narrowly over the bar. Steven Fletcher tried to give Sunderland an equalising goal just before halftime, but his header also sailed over the bar.
The Wanderers got the second half underway in style, as Marvin Sordell, a man who has been much criticised amongst Bolton fans in spite of not being given a chance on the pitch, doubled Bolton's lead. Again a poor clearance from Sunderland gifted the Trotters with possession, and Sordell headed the loose ball home. This however appeared to remind the Black Cats that they were meant to be playing football, and they proceeded to put Andy Lonergan through his paces.
The keeper was forced into an incredibly acrobatic save from a close range Fletcher head just minutes after Sordell's goal. Fletcher forced Lonergan into another incredible save 10 minutes later, as he could only tip the chance over the bar. Recent substitute Connor Wickham received the ball from the resulting corner and scored, making it 2-1 in the 61st minute.
Andy Lonergan was fairly beleaguered in goal, as he was once again forced to save a Fletcher header in the 73rd minute. 2 minutes later, Bolton failed to clear from Sunderland's 13th corner of the match, and Gardner hammered the ball into the top of the net, bringing the visitors level.
What followed was a period of Sunderland dominance. Tyrone Mears, who had come on for the injured Riley, was forced to make a goal line clearance in the 86th minute, which Jack Colback picked up and crossed back in, luckily missing Fletcher and going out inches past the post. Titus Bramble had a go in the dying minutes of the match, but his header went wide.
It was not a match for the ages, and the smart money is that the replay in a week and a half at the Stadium of Light won't be either. Positives are that Chung-Yong seems to be continuing his recent streak of good form, and it was really good to finally see Marvin Sordell get on the score sheet. Andy Lonergan put in a really good performance, and Bogdan should consider that a warning. Hopefully the Men in White can take the lessons from today, and give us an improved game next time around.