Kevin Davies struck twice as Wanderers battled to rescue a point at Sunderland.

The skipper led from the front to put his side ahead midway through the first half before Niklas Bendtner and then James McLean looked to have dealt a fatal blow to the Whites' survival chances.

Davies – who had played an unwanted part in Sunderland's second by giving away a free kick on the edge of his own box – then made amends with a fine header from Sam Ricketts' cross to make it all square once more.

He then combined twice with sub Ivan Klasnic in the latter stages to try and snatch what would have been a priceless win , especially in light of Wigan's result at home to Newcastle.

But a point was all that could be salvaged, adding more pressure to get a result on Wednesday night against Tottenham.

Wanderers started off the better side and David Ngog saw a goalbound shot blocked by Mathew Kilgallon before Nigel Reo-Coker and Mark Davies both had Black Cats keeper Craig Gordon at full stretch.

The Whites got a touch of bad fortune when Mark Davies was wrongly given offside as he burst into the box. But there was no complaint when Kevin Davies volleyed the ball into the net on 26 minutes after a great exchange with Martin Petrov.

Sunderland reacted well to falling behind and nearly snatched an equaliser when James McLean's free kick dropped over a sea of bodies in the penalty box and squeezed narrowly wide of the post.

Then just before the break, Niklas Bendtner levelled the scores, seizing on to a fine ball from Jack Colback to place his shot under the advancing Adam Bogdan.

It took Sunderland just 10 minutes after the restart to snatch a second, but they were given a helping hand as Kevin Davies – outstanding in the first half – gave away a needless free kick with a challenge on Stephane Sessegnon on the edge of his own box. McLean stepped up, and unleashed a superb effort from 20 yards to send the Stadium of Light crazy.

David Wheater had an excellent chance to level it up again when he got his head on to Petrov's corner only to steer his effort over.

Sunderland looked like making it three, with Sessegnon firing just over, but cometh the hour, cometh the captain, and after giving away the free kick that led to the goal, Kevin Davies then pounced to head home Sam Ricketts' cross to equalise.

Klasnic came off the bench for Ngog, and twice went close in the last 10 minutes with close range efforts – forcing Gordon into one especially fine save with his feet.

Davies deservedly went off with the 1,000 travelling fans singing his name after an immense performance. But what the result will do in the scrap for safety is a mystery at the moment.