Middlesbrough 3-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • August 15, 2015 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/d7aea

A disastrous first-half performance cost Bolton dear, as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

After holding title-favourites Derby County to a goalless draw last weekend, optimism was high going into Wanderers' first away game of the season. But they were brought back down to earth with a bump, as Diego Fabbrini and a brace from Kike gave Boro what is likely to be one of their most comfortable victories in recent memory.

Bolton were much improved in possession after the break, but still failed to muster a single shot on target as they were given a stark reminder as to how far they have to go before they can be considered anything more than a Championship also-run.

Neil Lennon made three changes to the team that started against Burton Albion on Tuesday, as Prince-Desir Gouano, Jay Spearing and Emile Heskey took the places of Lawrie Wilson, Zach Clough and Gary Madine, all of whom were named amongst the substitutes.

Wanderers were on the back foot from the opening minute at the Riverside and it took the hosts less than three minutes to register their first shot on target, with Stewart Downing cutting in from the left-flank before bringing a low save out of Ben Amos.

George Friend came even closer from the next attack, curling a shot inches wide of the far post, but Boro were ahead with seven minutes on the clock as Fabbrini collected the ball from Friend before unleashing a 30-yard strike that flew into the Bolton net.

Dean Moxey found himself in an unfamiliar attacking position on the quarter-hour, heading wide after being picked out well by Gouano, before superb defending at the other end from Dorian Dervite prevented Albert Adomah from doubling Boro's lead.

Aitor Karanka's side did have the ball in the net 60 seconds later, however, as Kike ran on to a through ball from Fabbrini before sliding a shot into the bottom corner to make the score 2-0.

Wanderers made a tactical switch following that goal, with Josh Vela moving into midfield as Lennon opted to go with a flat back-four of Moxey, Gouano, Dervite and Rob Holding, but the alteration had little effect on his side as Amos got down well to deny Adomah as Boro went in search of a third.

Amos produced an outstanding double save to keep out Kike, but the Middlesbrough forward notched his second of the game just after the half-hour. A deflected shot from Fabbrini came back off the crossbar and Kike's gamble paid off, as his unopposed run into the box resulted in a simple tap-in that prompted a mass rush to the concourse for the visiting fans.

Kike was denied a hat-trick when Amos pounced on a loose ball six minutes before the break, while a long-range shot from Grant Leadbitter flashed over the top as Boro were made to settle for a three-goal lead at the interval.

Lennon made one change to the Bolton side as they emerged for the start of the second period, as Spearing was sacrificed in midfield and Clough coming on in his place.

Despite the attacking substitution, it was the hosts who started the better and came close to extending their lead within three minutes of the restart as Downing shot wide from close range.

Wanderers' first real chance arrived on the hour, as a neat one-two involving Clough and Heskey resulted in the former seeing hit strike deflect narrowly wide and behind for a corner.

Clough was becoming the focal point of the Bolton attack and he was involved again soon after, in a move which ended with Heskey shooting wide after a stunning ball into the box from Moxey.

Liam Feeney's afternoon came to an end with 20 minutes to go, as Tom Walker came on for his first league appearance of the season, while the final change saw Wilson come on for Holding.

Emilio Nsue fired high and wide as Middlesbrough looked to add some extra gloss to the result in the closing stages, before debutant David Nugent prodded an effort just wide in stoppage time as he got on the end of a Downing cross.

A second-half without much in terms of goalmouth activity was brought to an end by referee James Adcock, although, for Bolton, at least, the damage had been done inside the opening 32 minutes as Karanka's team cruised to a deserved win.

Wanderers must pick themselves up quickly, as they return to action on Tuesday evening with another long trip - this time, to MK Dons.

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Kalas, Ayala, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter, Adomah (Forshaw 74), Fabbrini (Stuani 64), Downing, Kike (Nugent 83)
Subs Not Used: Mejias, Stephens, Husband, Fry
Goals: Fabbrini 7, Kike 17,32

Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Gouano, Dervite, Holding (Wilson 79), Moxey, Spearing (Clough 46), Vela, Feeney (Walker 70), Davies, Danns, Heskey
Subs Not Used: Madine, Dobbie, Twardzik, Fitzsimons

Referee: James Adcock
Attendance: 23,333

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22 Oldham Athletic 2 0
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