There was no Christmas miracle for Phil Parkinson as his Sunderland side failed to win again after a dismal goalless draw with League One strugglers Bolton Wanderers at the SOL on Boxing day. The result leaves Sunderland languishing in fifteenth place in the league which is simply not good enough and chants of “We want Parky out" rang out from the terraces in the closing stages of the game.
Phil Parkinson made three changes to the side that drew with Blackpool last time out at the SOL with Willis, Leadbitter and Gooch replacing De Bock, Dobson and Maguire. The visitors had former Sunderland striker Daryl Murphy leading the line whilst former Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt captained The Wanderers.
There was a planned moments silence prior to kick off in remembrance of all Sunderland fans and players who have passed away over the past year which followed a nice tribute video to the late Billy Hughes. There was a bit of confusion on the referee’s whistle to start the silence and Wise Men Say played over the tannoy but regardless this the sentiment was well received
The visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North stand but it was the lads who had the first effort of the game with Wyke flicking a Hume cross goalwards but it was off target. A few minutes later Hume won a free kick on the left flank which Grant Leadbitter delivered dangerously into the box but the keeper punched clear.
Just after ten minutes the visitors should have taken the lead after some lazy Sunderland defending allowed a cross from the right to pick out the unmarked Darcy but he volleyed over with the goal gaping. At the other end we forced a corner which Wyke did well to get on the end of despite his shirt being pulled but the keeper tipped his header over the bar and the next corner was cleared comfortably.
After twenty minutes we had a big shout for a penalty waved away after what appeared to be a blatant handball. The visitors then broke at pace and Jon McLaughlin was forced into action making a good save to deny Darcy who had found himself one on one with the keeper. Sunderland then had a chance after Gooch turned his marker and fed Watmore but his left footed effort was parried away by the keeper. We forced another chance on the half hour when Hume picked out O’Nien unmarked at the back post but his header was easily gathered by the keeper.
We then forced a corner after Wyke missed a cross at the back post and Sunderland did have the ball in the back of the net but the ref penalised Flanagan for a foul on the keeper and disallowed the goal. Sunderland then almost gifted the visitors the lead after a woeful back pass by Ozturk but despite rounding McLaughlin Daryl Murphy couldn't capitalise. A few minutes later Murphy was then gifted another chance this time by McLaughlin but he blazed over from 25 yards with McLaughlin out of position.
It was level at the break and neither team made a change as Sunderland kicked off towards the North Stand in search of a much needed goal and victory. It was Bolton who had the first sight of goal though as Verlinden rolled Hume and got in on goal but Willis did well to get back and block his shot for a corner which we managed to clear.
With half an hour remaining we had a really good chance to take the lead after more good work from Hume down the left. He surged forward and drilled in a low cross which sat kindly for Luke O’Nien but he blazed a shot wide from just inside the penalty box. Following this a prolonged chant of “Super Kevin Phillips" a club legend who has made no secret of his desire to manage the lads.
Parkinson then made his first change of the game as Chris Maguire replaced Duncan Watmore. Maguire was immediately involved as he struck a free kick goal wards from the edge of the box but it swerved off target. Sunderland were then grateful to Jon McLaughlin after another great save to deny Daryl Murphy’s close range header after Denver Hume had been skinned on the left wing which allowed the former Sunderland striker to be found inside the six yard box.
Phil Parkinson was then forced into a second change after Tom Flanagan pulled up with a hamstring injury and he was replaced by Laurens DeBock. Marc McNulty soon followed him replacing Lynden Gooch as Parkinson made his final roll of the dice. We won a free kick right on the edge of the box after Hume was barged over but Maguire was denied by a brilliant diving save from the Bolton keeper. Sunderland then won another free kick, this time further out from goal and again Maguire went for goal but his dipping shot was wide of the post.
There were then chants of “We want Parky out" as Sunderland laboured forward in search of a goal but time and time again the lack of cutting edge was on show. Predictably a goal wasn't forthcoming despite a late McNulty effort in the five minutes injury time and the points were shared and even more predictably Phil Parkinson’s side were booed off the pitch yet again.
Final Score: Sunderland 0 Bolton Wanderers 0
ALS Man of the Match: Jon McLaughlin. The fact your goalkeeper was your best player against one of the worst teams in the league says everything
Ratings vs Bolton
By Daniel McCallum
Jon McLaughlin (7/10): Made a few crucial saves.
Luke O’Nien (6/10): Suspect defensively but offered a decent option going forward.
Jordan Willis (5/10): Sloppy in possession, particularly in the first half.
Alim Ozturk (6/10): Didn’t do too much wrong.
Tom Flanagan (5/10): Looked lacking in confidence and didn’t show leadership at the back. Unlucky to have a goal rules out for an unclear reason.
Denver Hume (7/10): Put a lot of really good balls into the box. Our only good attacking threat really.
Grant Leadbitter (5/10): No creativity from set pieces, just lifting balls towards the back post.
Max Power (5/10): Influenced the first half with some long balls to O’Nien but seriously faded in the second, becoming absolutely anonymous.
Lynden Gooch (6/10): Looked bright although not too much came off for Gooch.
Duncan Watmore (6/10): Ran and ran as usual. Proved a bit of a handful for the Bolton defence.
Charlie Wyke (6/10): Won battles and linked play well. That being said, never looked like scoring which shouldn’t be the case as he’s our sole striker.
Chris Maguire (6/10): Tried to make an impact at least.
Laurens De Bock (6/10): Sat back at left-back, slowing Hume to roam forward more as the game went on.
Marc McNulty (7/10): Provided some energy and a spark up front when we were desperately lacking.