Easy to get to and with a big ticket allocation on offer, visits to Bolton Wanderers have been popular with the Red and White Army in recent seasons. Both Sunderland and Bolton started playing at their current homes in 1997-98 and with the two clubs often in the same division since then the fixtures are a regular and often keenly contested event.
Sunderland have enjoyed most of the spoils during this period, but things have not been quite as straightforward in the last decade or so. Since the Reebok was renamed the Macron and latterly the University of Bolton Stadium the Lads are yet to enjoy success in the Trotters’ backyard, but Carl Winchester’s winner at the Stadium of Light in September means they head into their latest promotion exam looking to do the double over a familiar opponent.
With what looks like a winnable run of games afterwards, victory would set Sunderland up nicely and so to get you in the mood for the match here’s a reminder of when the Lads have come away from Horwich with all three points in the past…
Sunday 1 November 1998
Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Sunderland
Sunderland’s first visit to the ground was shown live on television, and they certainly put on a show for the Sky Sports cameras.
Former Bolton player Peter Reid had assembled one of the most exciting sides seen in a generation on Wearside and they were already en route to what would be a record Division One points total when they rolled into town.
One time Roker idol Colin Todd was in charge of the hosts, but it was the latest batch of Sunderland heroes that came out on top: cruising to the win via quality strikes from Allan Johnston and Michael Bridges plus an opportunistic finish from Niall Quinn.
Saturday 29 September 2001
Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Sunderland
Once again there was a former Roker defender in charge at Bolton, but Sam Allardyce could do little to change the outcome as Sunderland earned another important win.
Thomas Sorensen saved a Per Frandsen penalty to earn himself a consecutive clean sheet at the Reebok, and their were personal milestones for both of the scorers too; Kevin Phillips’ opener with a little over ten minutes left was his 100th league goal for the club, whilst Jody Craddock soon made sure of victory with his first in Sunderland colours.
At this point the Lads had been doing relatively well, but by the end of the campaign form has dipped dramatically and the two clubs only just finished outside of the Premiership relegation zone.
Saturday 15 August 2009
Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Sunderland
Three months earlier a draw on the road at Bolton had proven vital in what was another battle against the drop.
A superb save from Marton Fulop late in the match gave Sunderland what would be their last point under Ricky Sbragia, who was subsequently replaced by Steve Bruce over the summer.
This was Bruce’s first game in charge therefore and his new-look side included three debutants in the form of Lorik Cana, Lee Cattermole and Darren Bent, who scored the only goal of the game after just five minutes with a fine header.
Fraizer Campbell also made his debut as a second half substitute whereas Gavin McCann, who had played for Sunderland the last time they won here, was now lining up for the hosts.
Saturday 7 May 2011
Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Sunderland
Despite his blistering start at Sunderland, Bent was gone by the time they next travelled to Bolton the following season.
A post-Christmas slump had sent the side sliding down the table, but they rallied late on in the campaign to win their final two away games here and at West Ham United.
They left it late in this particular game too, when a 90th minute Sulley Muntari cross shot was deflected in, but the victory was certainly well deserved. The Lads battled hard throughout, and they went ahead just before half time when Bolo Zenden calmly finished an excellent move.
There was a stroke of fortune in that Steed Malbranque could have very easily given away a free kick when winning possession back and starting the attack, but that luck seemed to have run out with three minutes left when Ivan Klasnic levelled following several good chances. It turned out though that the Black Cats still had another few lives left however, and after a fantastic goal line clearance from Phil Bardsley there was still enough time for Muntari’s ball to be turned into his own net by Zat Knight and spark wild scenes behind the goal.
Saturday 22 October 2011
Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Sunderland
The Reebok was a happy hunting ground for Bruce and a third successive win looked to have given him a stay of execution as Sunderland boss.
Pressure had been mounting following a poor start to the 2010-11 season, and despite some excellent play this looked like it was going to be another frustrating afternoon.
Sunderland kept coming at Bolton time and again, but just as it was starting to look as if it wasn’t going to be their day Stephane Sessegnon swivelled in the box with 8 minutes left and fired a low shot home.
John O’Shea had an excellent game in defence and made a superb headed clearance from under his own bar, and in the dying moments another of Bruce’s new arrivals, Nicklas Bendtner, rounded off the win following a slick counter move.
The thousands of fans heading back afterwards hoped the win would spark an upturn in results, but it proved to be the last Sunderland victory of the Steve Bruce era and the last at Bolton – so far.
Overall, Sunderland’s record in this corner of the North West reads played 13, won 5, drawn 5 and lost 3. Last time down there a late Aiden McGeady penalty saved the Lads’ blushes against a patched up Bolton team, and with their first class support once again in tow this weekend a return to winning ways at the University of Bolton Stadium would be very welcome.