Black Cats show class

09 May 2009 04:07
Sunderland had to settle for a point against Bolton after a goalless draw, but it could prove to be a vital one as they continue to avoid relegation. Paul Merson watched the game and was hugely impressed by Ricky Sbragia's team, but still had question marks over the Black Cats' ability to finish in front of goal. "First half they were absolutely outstanding," Merson told Soccer Saturday. "If they had played like that every week they would be nowhere near where they are now. "They were very, very good considering Bolton are a difficult to team to play against, but there finishing was all over the place. "They must have registered about six or seven shots and not one of them hit the target, or even looked like hitting the target." Formation Sunderland boss Sbragia opted to play a new formation following his side's 2-0 defeat at home to Everton last week and it appeared to work. However, Merson wasn't convinced that the same tactics would work without the same personnel, and in particular striker Kenwyne Jones. He said: "They played 4-5-1 and Kenwyne Jones won everything in the air and everything he knocked down they created a chance from, and it really worked a treat. "But you need the runners and you need the person up front to win the ball. Come next week it might not. Jones went off injured and if it was Djibril Cisse he might not win every ball and then it doesn't look very good." Misses Former Manchester United midfielder Kieran Richardson missed the best of Sunderland's good chances to put them ahead, while Grant Leadbitter also went close when he fired into the side netting. Merson praised Richardson for his timely runs from midfield, but insisted that a player of his quality should have finished at least one of his chances. "He made a lot of runs and timed them really well," he added. "Everything that fell, it fell to him and it's not luck, but he just needs to hit the target. With his talent he should be hitting the target with at least three of them and if he does that, you'd expect him to score one of them." Better As for Bolton, Merson believed the half-time introduction of Mark Davies for Tamir Cohen made all the difference for Gary Megson's side. "The lad Davies came on for Cohen and he was much better," he said. "He got stuck in and he did Teemu Tainio and got booked for that, but it livened everyone up. "They got the ball in the box a lot more in the second half and Kevin Davies was winning a lot of headers. There were a few scrambles in front of goal and that's the way Bolton play. "They're not going to pass you to death, but they play a lot of diagonal balls, Kevin Davies wins everything, and they fight for everything in the box and that's what they did in the second half and they were much better."

Source: SKY_Sports