Bolton Wanderers 0 Sunderland 0

Last updated : 09 May 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Bolton Wanderers are virtually assured of their Premier League safety, but Sunderland will be anxiously looking over their shoulders after a drab goalless draw at the Reebok Stadium.

The Black Cats are just five points clear of the relegation zone with three games remaining and two of the bottom three - Newcastle and Middlesbrough - are due to meet on Monday night.

And it could have been a lot worse for Ricky Sbragia's side had goalkeeper Marton Fulop not made a superb save to keep out Gary Cahill's stoppage-time header.

That would have been hugely unfair on Sunderland, who were left to rue a succession of missed chances, particularly Kieran Richardson who wasted at least three excellent opportunities, while it was Bolton's only effort on target.

The draw – the Trotters third in a row - means Gary Megson's side are now nine points clear of the drop zone and all but guaranteed of their top-flight status for another season after reaching the 40-point mark.

Grant Leadbitter had the first chance of a dire encounter on 22 minutes when he cut inside Gretar Steinsson, but the midfielder dragged his shot into the side-netting.

Less than 60 seconds later, Richardson missed an even better opportunity to give Sunderland the lead when Kenwyne Jones knocked Steed Malbranque's cross into his path, only for the former Manchester United player to blaze over from 10 yards.

Richardson, playing in the hole behind the frontman, once again went close on 36 minutes when the dangerous Jones headed into his path, but he again failed to hit the target.

Black Cats captain Dean Whitehead then fired wide after more good link-up play between Jones and Richardson, before Bolton were indebted to Gavin McCann's fantastic sliding challenge on Richardson as he looked to pull the trigger after surging into the penalty area four minutes before half-time.

It was difficult to believe the second half could be worse than the first 45 minutes of football but that how it transpired.

Richardson wasted another good opportunity on 78 minutes after Calum Davenport's long free-kick finally dropped to him inside the area.

Bolton finally burst into life with two minutes remaining and Mark Davies should have grabbed an improbable winner for Wanderers when the substitute chested down Kevin Davies' header only to volley over from six yards out.

And with just seconds remaining, Cahill latched onto another Davies' flick, this time from Steinsson's long throw, only for Fulop to claw the defender's header to safety.