Sunderland are fighting Hull, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and West Brom to avoid finishing in the bottom three but the five teams have managed just four victories between them in the past since the beginning of March in what has become a stagger to safety.
Even a pep talk from the Olympic boxer Tony Jeffries failed to put some punch into Ricky Sbragia's Sunderland as they failed to score for the 16th time in the Premier League this season but they are now five points above their neighbours Newcastle, who sit 18th and host Middlesbrough on Monday evening, with two games, a trip to Portsmouth and a home game against Chelsea remaining.
Sbragia, who claims he will spend Monday night in the pub rather than watching the game at St James' Park, said: 'It was a good point considering how we've been playing recently. We haven't done particularly well away from home but we expressed ourselves a bit better and there was more commitment. It was really good performance and we got a valuable point.
'We've got a difficult game at Portsmouth and we knew this was going to be tough but we got a point and you hope results go for you but we've got to do it. We've had umpteen chances to get out of it. We don't feel more secure but we're pleased that we've got something here.'
That Marton Fulop's one-handed save from Bolton defender Gary Cahill's header in the 94th minute was the first meaningful action of the entire game summed up what was a forgettable game at the Reebok Stadium.
Sunderland played with the greater invention in the opening period but Kieran Richardson, playing behind the lone striker, wasted the best chance of the first half when he sent a shot well over the bar from 15 yards out after he was picked out by Kenwyne Jones' flick.
The introduction of Mark Davies at the interval gave Bolton a little more life after the restart and the young midfielder could have won the game with a half volley from Kevin Davies' knock-down with a couple of minutes remaining.
Three minutes into added time, Gretar Steinsson's long throw was glanced on by Kevin Davies and headed towards the corner of the net by Cahill only for Fulop to produce a fine save for Sunderland, who had lost six of their previous seven matches, to hold on for their draw.
Bolton are now nine points above the relegation zone with three games left and although they are still not mathematically safe, they could be tomorrow night. Gary Megson said: 'We're not looking for a magical 40 points or anything like that, we just want to get as many as we can and that's another point. Even if we had got more points, you've got to have that drive, desire and pride.