WANDERERS threw everything but the kitchen sink at Sunderland in a breathless second half at the Stadium of Light but frustratingly left empty-handed.

For the fourth time in six games Ian Evatt’s side failed to get on the scoresheet – leaving Carl Winchester’s 17th minute strike as the decisive one on the day.

Wanderers started off on the wrong foot as Joel Dixon took a bad touch on Ricardo Santos’s back-pass and ended up having to tackle Alex Pritchard near the penalty spot.

The Bolton keeper, who also made a good save from Ross Stewart’s bouncing header, then needed five minutes of treatment to a nose injury. Once the game restarted it seemed as if Sunderland’s early bombardment had ceased too.

Wanderers worked themselves into the game, Lloyd Isgrove and Gethin Jones conspiring to send a cross skidding across the six yard box and Eoin Doyle causing panic in the home box with a lofted pass for Antoni Sarcevic that was punched away by Thorben Hoffmann.

But 17 minutes in, Winchester grabbed the opening goal. Bolton’s midfield had failed to track their runners and Dennis Cirkin crossed low for his opposite full-back to pass home unmarked at the far post.

Sunderland struggled under the press and Doyle was inches away from turning the ball home after Isgrove had won the ball back inside the Black Cats’ half.

He went even closer a few moments later when Afoalyan cut in off the left and curled a shot at goal that was spilled by Hoffmann, Doyle reacting first but only able to stab a close-range effort straight at the spread-eagled Sunderland stopper.

The afternoon was full of nervy clearances and poor touches at the back for Bolton but when they pushed forward, they continued to look threatening.

Doyle and Afolayan had shots blocked, Sarcevic volleyed wide, but Sunderland finished the half strongly as Dixon touched Ross Stewart’s header wide and George Johnston produced two marvellous goal-saving challenges to ensure the lead stayed at just one goal.

Dixon – a former Sunderland academy keeper – produced his own heroics after the break with a fine close-range stop from Pritchard, who stole in on McGeady’s cross.

Bolton were then forced into a change when Isgrove collided with Tom Flanagan, leaving the pitch with blood pouring from his head. His replacement, Elias Kachunga, was close to getting on the end of a Josh Sheehan free kick with his very first touch.

Doyle’s luck was not improving – and the Irishman was denied by a smart stop by Hoffmann after being picked out by Sheehan with a smart centre.

Wanderers continued to hunt for the equaliser and after winning the ball on the edge of his own box, Sarcevic produced a defence-splitting pass to find Afoalyan. His cross took a nick off defender Callum Doyle and skipped just wide of the post.

All the pressure was coming from Bolton by that stage, and Johnston had perhaps the best chance of the half as he volleyed wide from Jones’s deep cross.

Sunderland had effectively been pinned back for the whole second half but try as they may, Wanderers just could not get the ball in the back of the net.