Sunderland 3-3 Bolton Wanderers
Sunderland struggled again today, this time against Bolton Wanderers, drawing 3-3 at the Stadium of Light in what was an absolutely terrible display of football from both sides.
Two goals from Lewis Grabban and a late leveller from Paddy McNair masked what was an awful performance from Sunderland, who actually moved up one place to 22nd in the table.
Here’s how the game went, and how the lads rated.
Sunderland began the opening interval with little firepower, much like their opposition. The lads were happy to spray the ball around without really threatening whilst Bolton were content to sit back and remain ineffectual.
Of course, no match held on Wearside ever follows such an uncontroversial script. Former Magpie and younger brother of a certain Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi, found an opportunity to burst forward into acres of space, unmarked by the red-and-white shirts encompassing him at a distance, and shot from outside the box to beat Robbin Ruiter at his near post - giving Bolton the lead.
Boos resonated once again around the Stadium of Light, but they would be quelled before the conclusion of the first half. A straightfoward through ball from Didier Ndong set Lewis Grabban racing down the middle of the park to slide home Sunderland’s equaliser just minutes before the break.
The first half ended with both sides still level.
Half Time: Sunderland 1 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
The lads started the second half livelier than their first, and almost nabbed a golden opportunity straight from the get-go when James Vaughan was brought down inside the box - but all cries for a penalty were waived away by the referee.
But that wouldn’t stop Sunderland getting their noses in front. Not long after, Ndong worked his way into a good position and slipped in Oviedo who squared the ball to Grabban - gifting the frontman his second goal of the evening as he tapped the ball into an empty net.
The lead wouldn’t last, however. Minutes later, Sunderland failed to clear a Bolton free-kick as Gary Madine emerged unmarked from a sea of bodies to hit the visitors equaliser past an advancing Ruiter.
And then, of course, the inevitable happened. Ndong played a weak backpass which was scooped up by Bolton before it could reach Ruiter, and the ball was subsequently converted into a cross which floated over the aforementioned ‘keepers head and into the path of Karl Henry. The visitors were back in front.
But tonight’s fixture wouldn’t turn out to be a complete disaster. Substitute Paddy McNair picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and rifled it home as the game approached the eighty minute mark.
And that’s the scoreline with which the game would finish. A fixture rife with goals that extends our winless run - what implications does this have for Grayson’s future at the club?
Full Time: Sunderland 3 - 3 Bolton Wanderers
Robbin Ruiter, 5/10: Beaten far too easily for Bolton’s opener.
Bryan Oviedo, 7/10: Another solid performance from arguably our most underrated player.
Marc Wilson, 5/10: Just one component of a disheveled defence.
John O’Shea, 4/10: Same as Wilson, but he loses a point in virtue of being the alleged leader of it.
Adam Matthews, 6/10: Didn’t do an awful lot wrong, got forward with intent on a fair few occasions.
Darron Gibson, 4/10: Ineffectual.
Didier Ndong, 3/10: Should’ve done a better job closing down Ameobi for Bolton’s first and played a shocker of a backpass to hand them their third. His one saving grace, I suppose, is the ball he played to Grabban for our opener.
Jonny Williams, 5/10: Ran about but didn’t make an awful lot happen.
Callum McManaman, 5/10: Never really got going.
Aiden McGeady, 5/10: See above.
Lewis Grabban, 8/10: Took the opportunities he was given. Can’t fault the bloke at all - a very good performance from him.
(SUB) James Vaughan, 3/10: Fell over. Tried to make it look like a convincing foul. Failed at doing so.
(SUB) Paddy McNair, 7/10: Took his goal well. We needed an impact sub and Paddy rose to the occasion.
(SUB) Duncan Watmore, 6/10: Lively. Could’ve made something happen on another day.
Man of the Match: Lewis Grabban. His goal tally so far this season is impressive given the state we’re in.