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Match Report - Bolton Wanderers 0 - 2 Sunderland

By Rob
Sunday 23rd October 2011
Going into today's fixture at the Reebok Stadium all the talk was of Sunderland manager Steve Bruce being one defeat away from losing his job, but an away victory against a dire Bolton Wanderers has seen the pendulum swing completely onto Bruce's opposite number.

Bolton Manager Owen Coyle seems to have no answers for correcting Bolton's continuing lack of quality. Today the team created nothing against Sunderland, who must have been delighted with the lack of problems they were caused. Both teams were equally inept in a very poor first 45 minutes, but Sunderland turned the screw in the second half winning a succession of second half corners (11) which they eventually turned into an opener through the lively Stephane Sessegnon with 8 minutes to go.

But despite falling behind in front of their home crowd Bolton failed to cause any problems for Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who didn't have a save to make all match. And that failure to create and total lack of composure in the final third was finally punished when Sunderland doubled their lead through Nicklas Bendtner in the final minute.

Hats off to Sunderland, they did nothing to suggest an away win was on the cards in the first half but raised the bar in the second period to come away with a deserved victory. The North-East outfit essentially bought a new team over the summer and, while they may not have gelled 100 per cent so far this season, there are promising signs for Bruce's men - and talk of sacking the manager are frankly ridiculous.

Coyle on the other hand now finds the pressure well and truly on him to turn things around for Bolton. His side was well and truly second best against Sunderland, and the early season excuses that the side was being beaten (sorry, humiliated) by the league's top teams are now well and truly behind him. Bolton have now lost their opening five home games this season - and today's performance confirms a relegation battle is well and truly on the cards for The Trotters.

Wanderers are completely bereft of quality in the midfield positions, a problem that heaves pressure upon the rest of the team. The midfield duo of Nigel Reo-Coker and Darren Pratley is, while industrious, well short of Premier League standards and is left sorely exposed by the complete lack of work ethic from Martin Petrov on the left hand side. Petrov, as I've stated previously on this blog, brings nothing to the side. He doesn't work hard, doesn't track back, delivers very little quality in terms of creating chances and doesn't have an eye for goal - and I'm bemused as to how he continues to keep his place in the team.

Perhaps the problem is that there simply is no alternative. Petrov was removed against Sunderland and replaced by Chelsea loanee Gael Kakuta, who does not seem up to Premier League football and certainly looks well short of the quality of Daniel Sturridge, who was an inspiration on loan from Chelsea at the Reebok last season. With Stuart Holden and Chung Yong-Lee, Bolton's best and probably only creative players, missing for possibly the season the situation is very worrying for the Trotters faithful.

But when changes needed to be made today Coyle chose to leave both Mark Davies and Sanli Tuncay, who do have the ability to create something out of nothing, on the bench. While the decision to bring on Ricardo Gardner at left back to move Paul Robinson to right back was frankly baffling.

This Bolton side is a far cry from the one that began last season so promisingly. There's a total lack of creativity, a very shaky defence in front of a goalkeeper whose best days are seemingly behind him, and when the attacking players do get chances they are not capable of putting them away. David Ngog shows promise but veteran striker and club captain Kevin Davies is, frankly, past it and his legs have gone.

Having righted a string of 6 successive defeats against Wigan last weekend, the familiar feeling of doom and gloom looms once again for Bolton Wanderers, while Sunderland fans will be looking onwards and upwards with a well-earned three points in their pocket as they go home from the Reebok Stadium.

Bolton: Jaaskalainen; Boyata (Gardner 53), Wheater, Cahill, Robinson; Eagles, Reo-Coker, Pratley, Petrov (Kakuta 65); K Davies (Klasnic 65), Ngog. Unused substitutes: Bogdan, Knight, M Davies, Tuncay.

Sunderland: Mignolet; O'Shea, Brown, Turner, Richardson (Bardsley 87); Larsson, Colback, Vaughan, Sessegnon; Wickham, Bendtner. Unused substitutes: Westwood, Cattermole, Gardner, Meyler, Elmohamady, Ji Dong-Won.

Goals: Sessegnon (82), Bendtner (90+3)  Yellow Cards: Turner, Sessegnon, Colback

Total articles: 69

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