Match Report: Lads held by Bolton

Sunderland AFC 0-0  Bolton Wanderers

Sunderland’s final home game of 2019 ended in a goalless draw with Bolton Wanderers on Boxing Day.

Ronan Darcy spurned the visitors’ best openings of the first 45, while Tom Flanagan, who limped off in the second period, saw a goal chalked off for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Following the interval, close calls continued to fall at both ends, as Luke O’Nien’s piledriver screamed wide before Jon McLaughlin produced a sensational save to deny former Black Cat Daryl Murphy.

Changes were made and in the closing stages, substitutes Chris Maguire and Marc McNulty both forced flying saves from Remi Matthews.

But it remained level and ended 0-0 at the Stadium of Light.

After returning to action against Blackpool, Lynden Gooch was named in the starting XI for the first time since a 5-0 win over Tranmere Rovers, while Jordan Willis also lined up to face Wanderers after recovering from a knee injury.

Under-23 regular Ruben Sammut was named on the bench.

Chances fell to both sides during the opening exchanges, as a Charlie Wyke effort deflected behind before an unmarked Darcy volleyed a golden opportunity off target.

Pinned down by a collection of defenders, Wyke headed into the ground and over the top shortly after, while Josh Emmanuel was cautioned after tripping Denver Hume.

And Bolton spurned another great chance before the 20-minute mark, as a break-neck counter – after Josh Earl appeared to block with an arm – ended when McLaughlin denied Darcy.

Jason Lowe was the next player to be cautioned and the game continued to open up, with Watmore’s effort courageously blocked after Gooch roared towards the Roker End.

Sunderland continued to press forward and Luke O’Nien headed straight at Matthews, but the opener still eluded Parkinson’s men, as the slightest of touches prevented Wyke from connecting with an excellent Hume cross.

With 31 minutes played, Bolton’s defence was breached – but the referee came to the Trotters’ rescue, ruling that Tom Flanagan headed the ball out of Matthews’ grasp.

The Lads’ hard work was almost undone before the break, as a defensive mix-up allowed Murphy to round McLaughlin and pick out Luke Murphy, who was denied by the Sunderland stopper.

After the restart, excellent defending from Willis ensured Thibaud Verlinden was unable to make the most of a two-on-one breakaway and pick out Murphy.

O’Nien slammed a rocket inches wide before the hour mark, but Bolton should have led on 67, as a stunning reaction save from McLaughlin somehow denied Murphy.

Changes followed as Chris Maguire, Laurens De Bock and Marc McNulty joined the action, however, it remained goalless and the spoils were shared.

Sunderland: J McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, Power, Wyke, Gooch, Flanagan (De Bock 72), O’Nien, Watmore (Maguire 64), Leadbitter, Hume.
Subs not used:
Burge, McNulty, C McLaughlin, Grigg, Sammut.

Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Emmanuel, Lowe, Wright, L Murphy, D Murphy, Verlinden (O’Grady 64), Dodoo, Darcy (Chicksen 87), Bridcutt, Earl.
Subs not used: Alexander, Politic, Zouma, Senior, Graham.

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