Dismal Sunderland suffer humiliating 6-0 defeat against Bolton Wanderers
Sunderland fell to a humiliating defeat on Saturday afternoon as a rampant Bolton Wanderers side put SIX past Lee Johnson’s side.
Over 5,000 fans had travelled to the North West in the hope of seeing the Black Cats bolster their automatic promotion hopes, but their loyalty was rewarded only with the kind of abject showing that threatens to derail this at times promising campaign.
Sunderland, as too often has happened this season, failed to win any of their battles all over the pitch and the scoreline did not flatter the hosts, who were utterly dominant.
They had taken a two-goal lead into the break and never looked like relinquishing it, running in another four goals as the packed away end watched on in despair.
Johnson had opted to make just one change to his Sunderland side, bringing back Carl Winchester and reverting to a back four.
There was encouragement that his options from the bench were significantly improved, Alex Pritchard returning from injury to be joined by January additions Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts.
So poor was the first half performance, though, that seemed like wishful thinking to imagine a scenario where there was contest for them to impact in the latter stages.
The opening stages were cagey, neither side able to forge any significant openings. Both teams were trying to play out in the swirling winds of Storm Malik and an error in the face of the press looked the most likely avenue to get on the scoresheet.
As it was, a simple punt downfield proved to be enough for the home side.
Trafford’s long kick wasn’t dealt with, and Thorben Hoffmann dithered too long on the edge of his box. The ball held up just as he hoped to gather, Charles nipping in to chip him with a first-time effort that bounced into the roof of the net.
The Black Cats all of a sudden were rocking, Kieran Lee firing over from an excellent position in the middle of the box after a strong break down the right flank. When Hoffmann then misplaced a simple pass moments later, he was fortunate that Afolayan could only fire straight at him from close range.
It was the third time the German had gifted possession away, seemingly struggling to adjust to the conditions.
The visitors looked to respond, but tame long-range efforts from Cirkin and Embleton were all they could muster.
Too often they were losing the ball in dangerous areas, allowing the hosts to break quickly through the excellent Afolayan and Charles.
The former would go close to doubling the lead when he cut inside and flashed an effort just wide of Hoffmann’s far post, but he would not have to wait long to get on the scoresheet. A turnover of possession again led to a home break, Sunderland again exposed down their left flank.
Bolton worked the ball into the box and where Lee had earlier faltered, Afolayan this time made no mistake as he fired an effort into the bottom corner.
It was a scoreline that did not flatter the hosts; an utterly abject first half from Johnson’s side.
The head coach resisted the temptation to make changes at the break, instead giving his starting XI the opportunity to make amends. Within ten minutes, it was three.
Soft defending again, a cross from the right flank not stopped. Sunderland lost the header at the back post, leaving Charles with a simple close-range finish.
Clarke and Pritchard were introduced in an attempt to turn the tide but it made little difference, the visitors slack in their passing and second to every loose ball. Bolton were totally dominant, and Lee had the chance to correct his miss when he swept home from just inside the box with half an hour still to play.
Sunderland did go close to a consolation effort when Clarke burst into a dangerous position from the left flank, but Trafford stood tall to make a solid stop and Santos was there to sweep clear the danger as Stewart tried to meet the rebound.
Substitute Patrick Roberts looked lively in the moments following his introduction, but the afternoon would only get worse from the visitors.
A cross from the left flank was headed past Hoffmann by the otherwise steady Danny Batth, before a dire afternoon ended with Declan John, who never made an appearance whie on loan at Sunderland, scoring a deflected effort moments before stoppage time.
Sunderland XI: Hoffmann; Winchester, Batth, Doyle, Cirkin (Pritchard, 53); Neil (Clarke, 53), Evans; Dajaku (Roberts, 65), Embleton, Gooch; Stewart
Subs: Patterson, Hume, O’Brien, Flanagan
Bolton Wanderers XI: Trafford, Fossey, Jones, Santos, Johnston, John, Williams, Morley, Lee (Sadlier, 71), Afolayan (Bodvarsson, 71), Charles (Bakayoko, 71)
Subs: Dixon, Aimson, Baptiste, Thomason
Bookings: Doyle, 77 Gooch, 81 Bakayoko, 83