Bolton cling on as Zach Clough piles on the misery for Sunderland

Posted Wednesday, February 21, 2018 by PA

Bolton cling on as Zach Clough piles on the misery for Sunderland

Zach Clough’s first goal for Bolton since returning to the club gave the hosts an invaluable 1-0 win in their Sky Bet Championship relegation scrap with Sunderland.

There was a hint of controversy about Clough’s 17th-minute effort as Chris Coleman’s visitors insisted the striker converted with a hand.

But referee David Coote waved aside protests and without ever looking convincing Wanderers pushed the Black Cats closer to the second-tier trap door.

Phil Parkinson’s side are now seven points clear of Coleman’s bottom-placed team and up to 19th.

Clough scored for Bolton for the first time since netting in defeat to Charlton on January 28, 2017, and this latest effort could prove one of his most priceless.

He left for Nottingham Forest days after the goal against Charlton but moved back to Bolton on loan last month.

Bolton-raised Sunderland forward Ashley Fletcher fashioned the opening chance, sliding the ball across the six-yard area and Joel Asoro narrowly failed to add the final touch.

The goal, however, failed to inspire Wanderers whose back-to-back away defeats at Cardiff and QPR had increased the pressure on their lowly position.

And Fletcher, on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season, should have equalised for the Black Cats on the half hour.

The one-time Manchester United youngster found himself one-on-one with Ben Alnwick, but a fractional delay ended with a shot the goalkeeper deflected away for a corner.

Sunderland were in the ascendancy and Paddy McNair, in space on the edge of the area, hit a low right-footed shot that Alnwick comfortably saved.

Then Fletcher unleashed another effort after 35 minutes but skipper David Wheater blocked and was grateful to see the ball loop behind for a corner.

Wanderers could hardly break out of their own half and were grateful to hear the interval whistle.

Sunderland maintained their stranglehold on possession in the second half without threatening an equaliser.

Parkinson was first to show his substitutes’ hand, taking off Aaron Wilbraham for Adam Le Fondre and replacing goalscorer Clough with Derik Osede after 59 minutes.

For Sunderland, Aiden McGeady replaced Billy Jones in an attacking move by manager Coleman.

Wheater was then booked for fouling Asoro but McGeady’s free-kick from 19 yards smashed into the wall.

Bolton finally forced Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Camp into action again after 74 minutes when Sammy Ameobi’s shot was pushed aside for a corner.

It was a rare moment of excitement for an increasingly nervous home crowd.

One pitch invader tried to stir the home fans into greater voice before being bundled away by the stewards.

Then twice in the space of 20 seconds Wanderers should have doubled their lead. Camp saved low at the post from unmarked Le Fondre’s header while Jem Karacan drove a shot from 12 yards against the bar.

And they nearly paid the price as only Alnwick saved his team with a brilliant tip-over from Callum McManaman in the third of six minutes of stoppage time.




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