With Lee Johnson’s Sunderland side having highly impressed so far this season, picking up 16 points over their opening seven fixtures of the 2021/22 League One campaign heading into Saturday’s fixture against Bolton Wanderers, the 40-year-old Mackems manager would more than likely have been expecting another dominant display against the Trotters.
And, while Ian Evatt’s side put up an extremely resolute fight in the fixture, besting Sunderland in possession of the ball, shots at goal and passes completed, Carl Winchester’s 17th-minute strike proved to be the difference in the match, with the Black Cats extending their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions, seeing off Bolton 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
In terms of individual performances, despite the fact that the overall display was not Sunderland’s best of the season by any stretch of the imagination, there were nevertheless a number of players who impressed, none more so than the match-winner himself.
Having returned to the side after being rested for the 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Wigan Athletic in midweek, Winchester dominated from right-back, demonstrating exactly why he is currently keeping the Leeds United loanee, Niall Huggins, out of the team.
The 28-year-old also looked good going forwards, scoring one goal, making one key pass, completing one cross and drawing one foul for his side.
These returns saw the man the Sunderland Echo journalist James Copley dubbed a “winner” receive a SofaScore match rating of 8.0, with no player from either side achieving a higher score than the £2.4k-per-week defender.
As such, while Huggins did impress while filling in for Winchester in the Carabao Cup win on Tuesday, it is clear to see why the Northern Ireland international is still Johnson’s first choice in the position, as the right-back ran the show against Bolton.