Sunderland 2-2 Bolton: Kevin Davies at the double as visitors pick up vital point
The 35-year-old struck twice as the Trotters came from behind to keep their survival hopes alive as Martin O'Neill's men will rue a lack of concentration in defence
By Tom Bradley
Bolton took the lead on 26 minutes as Davies slotted in Martin Petrov’s cross at the far post before Nicklas Bendtner levelled matters when he guided the ball past Adam Bogdan after latching onto a Jack Colback pass.
The second half saw James McClean hit a fantastic free-kick to put the Black Cats ahead, only for Davies to pop up again to power a header home to claim a vital point for the relegation strugglers.
For Sunderland, Sebastian Larsson has been ruled out for the remainder of the season so captain Lee Cattermole came into the side, and striker Fraizer Campbell replaced the suspended Craig Gardner as goalkeeper Craig Gordon made his first appearance of the season after returning from injury.
Mark Davies and Chris Eagles were deemed as doubts for Bolton but both started, as Ryo Miyaichi was dropped to the bench and replaced with Kevin Davies.
Sunderland failed to get a grip on the game in the opening 20 minutes as Bolton looked the more dangerous side going forward.
Mark Davies was handed the first chance for the away side, but his scuffed shot was easily saved Gordon, before the midfielder was ruled offside when again through on goal despite replays showing the opposite.
Bolton continued to apply pressure, with Petrov sending a great cross from the left into the box only to see David Ngog head it over, but the rewards came on the second attempt.
Minutes later, Petrov was again patrolling the left flank and spotted the veteran Davies lurking at the back post. One swipe of the Bulgarin’s left foot allowed the striker to volley home at the far post to break the deadlock.
However, the reality of falling behind sparked the home side into action and Colback fed Bendtner inside the area to allow the Denmark striker to notch Sunderland’s first goal in five games and pull his side level. Bolton continued to control the game but it all changed on 36 minutes.
With the game now far more open, both teams could have taken the lead.
Campbell found John O’Shea down the right and his shot looked to creep towards the goal only to see Tim Ream clear off the line.
Bolton finished the half as they started. They created a good chance as Mark Davies crossed the ball to the back post where Ngog’s resultant shot was tipped over the bar by Gordon.
After the break, nerves were evident as both teams struggled to control their passing.
But, Sunderland were given a boost when Kevin Davies fouled Stephane Sessegnon just outside his own area.
McClean curled the free-kick over the wall, which left Bogdan with no chance, and directed the ball directly into the top corner to give the home side the lead.
Owen Coyle decided to make a double change to get his side back in the game as Ngog and Chris Eagles came off for Ivan Klasnic and Miyaichi.
Sunderland now looked assured in possession, and looked to take control of the game and grab a third, only for Bolton to hit them against the run of play.
In a mirror to the opener, Sam Rickett’s sent a cross which evaded the hosts’ defence and Kevin Davies rose highest to power a close-range header home and snatch a vital point for his side.
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