Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Middlesbrough

  • September 09, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's ever-increasing struggle to be competitive in the Championship was exposed once again, as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough.

In action for the first time in over a fortnight, Wanderers were looking to rid themselves of the 4-0 defeat at Hull City prior to the international break but were put to the sword courtesy of a brace from £15million summer arrival Britt Assombalonga and a strike from £3million deadline day signing Marvin Johnson.

The home side lacked creativity throughout and aside from two Gary Madine chances, arriving at either end of the game, rarely looked like threatening a side who were relegated from the Premier League last season and looking to end a 13-month wait for an away league win.

Following criticism of his tactics and team selections in the opening weeks of the campaign, Phil Parkinson made seven changes to the starting line-up for the visit of Boro - lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Mark Howard, Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Will Buckley and Adam Armstrong all dropped to the substitutes' bench, while Andrew Taylor and Dorian Dervite missed out through injury. In their places came Ben Alnwick, Antonee Robinson, David Wheater, Stephen Darby, Darren Pratley, Derik Osede and debutant Craig Noone.

After a quiet opening spell, the game suddenly burst into life with eight minutes on the clock as Gary Madine took down a long ball from Alnwick on his chest before firing first-time on the volley, forcing Boro goalkeeper Darren Randolph into an outstanding reaction save to keep the game goalless.

Boro's first chance arrived five minutes later but, unlike Madine's beforehand, this time the ball flew into the back of the net as the visitors drew first blood.

Adama Traore showed fantastic skill and resilience to break free of multiple challenges from both Robinson and Mark Beevers before advancing down the right-flank and crossing into the box, where Assombalonga was left unmarked to head past a helpless Alnwick from six yards.

Lewis Baker fired over as Boro looked to double their advantage shortly after, while Noone saw an effort deflect behind at the other end as Bolton looked to get themselves back on level terms.

Madine headed wide from the resulting corner, moments before Osede was penalised by referee Geoff Eltringham as he looked to connect with an acrobatic overhead-kick.

Appeals for a penalty were turned down when a shot from Noone was charged down late in the half, as the visitors took their one-goal advantage in at the half-time interval.

Bolton were forced into a change as the players emerged for the start of the second period, as Reece Burke came on in place of the injured Darby, who failed to overcome a knock suffered inside the opening 45 minutes.

With the action back underway, Madine and Pratley combined well on the edge of the Middlesbrough box, but the latter was unable to keep his shot on target as he began to lose balance on his standing foot.

Boro were back on the attack on 55 minutes though and came close to adding to their lead, with Assombalonga shrugging off the attention of Wheater before forcing Alnwick into a low save with a strike across goal.

Dael Fry should have scored from the resulting corner, only to somehow sky his effort into the stands from 12 yards, while a rare attack from Bolton saw Morais bring a smart save out of Randolph, with the rebound just failing to land at the feet of Noone.

Wheater had a half-volley charged down as the clock ticked beyond the hour-mark, but the game was over as a contest with 20 minutes to go as Assombalonga netted his second of the game.

Just as he did in the first half, Traore broke clear of both Robinson and Beevers to find space in the Wanderers half. With the Wanderers box in his sights, Traore skipped past a further challenge from Wheater before squaring for Assombalonga, who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net.

Worse was yet to come for Bolton, who fell to a 3-0 deficit with 12 minutes remaining as Johnson, only just on as a substitute, saw a seemingly harmless strike from the left-hand corner of the box squirm under the body of Alnwick and into the bottom corner.

Madine brought Randolph into action again in the latter stages, seeing a well-taken volley parried to safety, but it proved to be just a rare moment of brightness on an otherwise dismal afternoon at the Macron - as Wanderers lost their first three home league games of a new campaign for only the fifth time in club history.

They return to action on Tuesday night looking to avoid that run stretching to four, when they play host to Sheffield United.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Robinson, Beevers, Wheater, Darby (Burke 46), Pratley, Osede (Cullen 65), Karacan (Le Fondre 76), Morais, Noone, Madine
Subs Not Used: Howard, Buckley, Wilbraham, Armstrong
Booked: Karacan

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Fry, Gibson, da Silva, Traore (Fletcher 82), Leadbitter, Clayton, Downing (Bamford 76), Baker (Johnson 68), Assombalonga
Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Shotton, Howson
Booked: Traore
Goals: Assombalonga 13,71, Johnson 78

Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Attendance: 17,385

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
11 Ipswich Town 20 27
12 Cheltenham Town 19 27
13 Bolton Wanderers 20 26
14 Accrington Stanley 19 24
15 Charlton Athletic 20 23
View Full Standings >>


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