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Thomas Sorensen

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Classic clashes: Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers

As Sunderland take on Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light this afternoon, we take a look back at some memorable games over the years.

Sunderland 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (1961)

I’m going very far back for the first match. Not so much ‘ask yer Da’ more like ‘Ask yer Granda’.

Believe it or not this match took place on exactly the same date as today’s game – 25 September. The tournament was the League Cup and it was a League Cup replay... (before the days of penalties and extra time to finish matches).

The ‘King’ Charlie Hurley, stalwart Len Ashurst and legendary football figure Brian Clough all lined up for the lads, who won 1-0 with Clough grabbing the goal.

It was a pretty good win for us as well, given the fact that Wanderers were in the top flight while we were a league below.

The story doesn’t end too well however. We were knocked out in the Quarter Finals that year by Norwich City and missed out on promotion to Division One by a single point.

Soccer - League Division Two - Chelsea v Sunderland - Stamford Bridge
Cloughy grabbed the only goal of the game in the fixture 60 years ago to the day
Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Sunderland (2001)

Fast-forward 40 years and this was Bolton’s first season at their new ground in the Premier League following promotion in the play-offs the year before.

We were in our third season in the top-flight and were doing very well. We’d had seventh place finishes in 99/00 and 00/01 and were looking to break into Europe.

It was Big Sam against Peter Reid in the manager stakes and Reidy came out on top on this occasion. A key turning point was the 65th minute penalty save by Tommy Sorensen from Per Frandsen.

We ended up winning 2-0 with late goals from Jody Craddock and SuperKev which sent us to fifth in the table. Things didn’t go so well however later on in the season, we narrowly avoided relegation finishing 17th whereas Bolton finished just above us in 16th.

Soccer - FA Barclaycard Premiership - Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland
Craddock celebrates a rare goal in Sunderland colours
Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

Sunderland 1-4 Bolton Wanderers (2008)

This was the last game of the exciting Roy Keane era at Sunderland – and it was a sad end.

Going into the game on the fringes of the bottom three, the pressure was starting to increase on Keane and the Lads were struggling. Bolton weren’t in much better form however just above us in the table.

We started well with Djibril Cisse putting us 1-0 in front in the 10th minute and then having a goal disallowed to double the advantage. It all went pear-shaped after that. Old Sunderland nemesis Matt Taylor equalised before goals from Gary Cahill and a brace from Johan Elmander give the Trotters the three points.

After casting doubt on his own future with his post-match comments, Keane resigned and the Ricky Sbragia took charge until the end of the season. Both clubs survived at the end of the campaign with wild celebrations from the Mackem faithful and the news Newcastle had been relegated.

Gary Cahill (R) scores for Bolton during
Cahill nets for Bolton to put the Trotters into the lead
Photo credit should read GRAHAM STUART/AFP via Getty Images

Bolton 1-2 Sunderland (2011)

Despite starting the season well and Sunderland being in the top six at Christmas - this game was critical in securing our Premier League status.

Steve Bruce was manager and a nine-game winless run in the Spring meant we were looking over our shoulders going into the end of the season.

As ever, we travelled in thousands to the Reebok and the red and army were overjoyed when dad-dancing Bolo Zenden slid home the first just before half-time. Things were going well but Sunderland missed chances to seal the game with Stephane Sessegnon and Ahmed Elmohamady squandering opportunities to put it to bed. Bolton also had chances from Daniel Sturridge and Kevin Davies.

We then typically made it hard for ourselves when Ivan Klasnic powered home a header for Bolton and it looked like we’d have to settle for a draw.

There was late drama thankfully when Sulley Muntari (remember him) scrambled home a winner (later attributed to the home team’s Zat Knight) to send the thousands home happy looking forward to another Premier League season.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Premier League
Muntari forces the ball home, but it was later given as a Zat Knight own goal
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Sunderland 3-3 Bolton Wanderers (2017)

The Premier League was but a memory for both teams when we met in the Championship in October 2017.

We were in trouble both on and off the field with a want-away owner in Ellis Short, a struggling manager in Simon Grayson, and a host of uninterested, failing players.

It was a pretty good open game with lots of goals but maybe that’s perhaps a sign of the poor football on show. Sammy Ameobi put Bolton in front before two Lewis Grabban goals had put us in front.

Geordie Gary Madine then levelled for Phil Parkinson’s visitors before a Karl Henry goal put them in front. Paddy McNair levelled for us and we ended with a point.

We’d only won one of the opening 16 matches and that result proved to be the end for Grayson who was sacked straight after the game.

The season finished with relegation for Sunderland of course and Bolton weren’t too long in falling through the leagues themselves.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship
McNair celebrates drawing Sunderland level
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images
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