Carl Winchester pounced in the first half to earn Sunderland a 1-0 win over Bolton at the Stadium of Light.
The converted full-back’s third goal of the season arrived in the 17th minute and was enough to separate the two teams.
Sunderland’s fifth straight home win kept Lee Johnson’s side level on points with Wigan at the top of Sky Bet League One.
The hosts could have been ahead inside a minute when striker Ross Stewart was denied by Bolton goalkeeper Joel Dixon.
Dixon, a former Sunderland player, was beaten when Dennis Cirkin’s run and cross from the byline was perfect for Winchester to side-foot into the net from close range.
Bolton were almost level shortly before the half-hour mark.
Sunderland goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann had to make an instinctive stop from Eoin Doyle having initially spilled an Oladapo Afolayan effort.
After the restart Alex Pritchard was soon denied by Dixon but Bolton enjoyed plenty of possession with Hoffmann having to turn over a Doyle header.
And with the clock ticking down George Johnston should have levelled with a back-post volley that shaved the side-netting before Doyle again went close.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe