Middlesbrough 2-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • December 26, 2017 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/b93f3

Bolton's search for a Championship away win will extend to 1,000 days, after they were beaten 2-0 by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

With new manager Tony Pulis watching on from the stands, Boro were comfortable victors on Boxing Day as a result of second-half goals from Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga.

Wanderers, whose last away success at this level came at Cardiff City in April 2015, failed to register a single shot on target, with supporters left to ponder where their side go from here as the battle to avoid relegation becomes an increasing concern.

With Saturday's surprise victory over Cardiff City still fresh in the memory, Phil Parkinson made just one alteration to the side that started that game - with Craig Noone coming in at the expense of Will Buckley on the left-hand side of midfield.

Once the action had got underway, it was Wanderers who created the first opportunity of the afternoon. After Gary Madine had closed down a clearance from Boro goalkeeper Darren Randolph, the ball just wouldn't fall kindly at the feet of Noone, as the hosts got back to clear the danger inside three minutes.

Boro's first chance arrived on 10 minutes, as Cyrus Christie worked his way beyond a number of defenders before seeing his left-footed drive fly into the side-netting of Ben Alnwick's goal.

Madine, as he so often has been this season, was the visitors' main attacking threat and he came close to breaking the deadlock with 19 minutes on the clock, rising highest to meet a free-kick from Karl Henry before sending a looping header onto the roof of the net.

The hosts were back on the front foot moments later, though, with Assombalonga forcing a save out of Alnwick with a cheeky close-range flick, before Josh Vela saw a goalbound shot blocked by Fabio da Silva at the other end after he had been picked out by Sammy Ameobi.

Boro should have gone ahead 10 minutes before the break, but Braithwaite somehow dragged his effort wide after he had worked a way into the Bolton box, shortly before Alnwick produced an outstanding save to deny Patrick Bamford an opener in a one-on-one situation.

With the first-half ending goalless, Boro made a change at the break as George Friend came on in place of da Silva - adding to Wanderers' earlier substitution, which saw Antonee Robinson replace an injured Andrew Taylor.

Once the action was back underway, it was Bolton who registered the first shot but Ameobi couldn't find the target from 35 yards as Randolph watched his speculative strike roll harmlessly wide of goal.

The deadlock was broken just 60 seconds later, however, as Braithwaite worked his way into the Wanderers box. His shot didn't look likely to threaten Alnwick, but a deflection off the toe of David Wheater sent the ball flying over the goalkeeper's head and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the home side.

Wanderers looked to hit back on the hour, with Henry seeing a goalbound shot charged down by a defender, but it was Middlesbrough who doubled their advantage midway through the half as Assombalonga beat Wheater for pace before firing past a helpless Alnwick to end the game as a contest.

Bolton introduced Aaron Wilbraham for the final quarter-hour, having already brought Buckley on in place of Noone, but aside from a half-chance for Wheater, who almost pounced on a mistake from Randolph, there was to be no further chances as Boro easily saw out time to claim all three points.

Parkinson's side remain 23rd in the Championship table as a result of their latest loss - a fourth in their last six outings - and they will close out the year with a trip to Sheffield United on Saturday, exactly 1,000 days since their last away win at this level.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Shotton, Gibson, da Silva (Friend 46), Howson, Leadbitter, Downing, Bamford, Braithwaite, Assombalonga (Gestede 70)
Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Ayala, Baker, Traore, Tavernier
Booked: Howson, Braithwaite
Goals: Braithwaite 49, Assombalonga 67

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, A Taylor (Robinson 36), Beevers, Wheater, Little, Pratley, Henry, Vela, Ameobi, Noone (Buckley 62), Madine (Wilbraham 77)
Subs Not Used: Turner, Cullen, Armstrong, Burke
Booked: A Taylor, Beevers, Wheater

Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 29,443

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 AFC Wimbledon 18 16
20 Tranmere Rovers 17 16
21 Milton Keynes Dons 18 13
22 Southend United 19 6
23 Bolton Wanderers 15 1
View Full Standings >>

Poll

Who is Bolton's 2018/19 Player of the Year?
34.62% Gary O'Neil
19.38% David Wheater
18.92% Pawel Olkowski
9.27% Joe Williams
5.33% Jason Lowe
4.13% Sammy Ameobi
2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone