No honeymon for McCarthy as Bolton Must Win..
Before (and after to a large degree), the game was not the story the press were wanting to tell. Before the game, the story was of Mick McCarthys return and by what magic he could rouse the Black Cats to fight for their safety. After the game, the story was how the fight was lost, Sunderland were doomed and the Nationwide beckoned. The difference between the two? Sunderland being taken apart by a talented, intelligent Bolton display that merely served to emphasise how adrift the Mackems are..
This was historic game for Bolton in one sense. In their 126 year history as a football club, they had never before fielded a team in which no English players were present. With Simon Charlton injured, Kevin Nolan on the bench and Ricketts long gone, a team of11 foreign players walked out in the Wanderers. But when they can perform this well, who cares where they were born?
Laville continues to foprge a very useful defensive partnership with Bergrssoin, Campo and Frandsen for a study defensive midfield - although Campo had a header blocked on the line and Frandsen a last minute efffort tipped over the bar, so to call them 'defensive' seems unfair. But it has to be said that's what they are copmpared to Okocha, Gardner and Djorkaeff, with the surprise resturn of Henrick Pedersen oafter a disloacted shoulder - a heavay landing late on saw him replaced by Ballestra so it was obviously not entirely healed. Ballestra also had a good header saved and Bernard Mendy was always ready to come forward.
But it is Okocha that remains Bolton's most potent and beguiling threat. After weathering a Sunderland rally late in the first half (Sunderland's first shot on target came in the 40th minute) Okocha bamboozled Michael Gray to get to the byline and fire in a low hard cross, Sorenson, somewhat out of position found himself stranded by it (Okocha admits he mis hit the ball and intended it to be a normal cross) and could only deflect it on it's way into the net.
Five minutes later saw the flourish that Bolton had been promising for weeks. A superb flowing move from the Wanderers penalty area up the left wing saw Djorkaeff play a cross field ball to Frandsen. Frandsen stepped over the ball and let it run to Mendy who fired a skidding shot in from the edge of the area. Sorenson palmed the shot away but with Bjorklund asleep on the job Perdersen was able to nip in and finish the easy rebound.
And from that there was no coming back for Sunderland. They tried hard and indeed might have made the finish of the game more fraught had McCartney not miscued a shot late on when set up by Marcus Stewart. But iof there is one factopr that differentiates Bolton from Sunderland right now it is a simple one - confidence. A series of good performances have given Boltn the belief that they can survive and even propser in the Premiership, while it seemed Sunderland's plaayers believed their future already set to play in less illustrious company.