Report: Bolton Wanderers vs. Middlesbrough

A first-half brace from Ashley Fletcher ensured Middlesbrough travelled back up to the North East with three points.

The striker, a former Canon Slade pupil, proved to be too clinical in the first-half as his goals set up the visitors for what turned out to be a comfortable victory at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Team News

Phil Parkinson made three changes to the starting XI with Luca Connell, Marc Wilson and Craig Noone coming into the fray at the expense of Callum Connolly, Andrew Taylor and Will Buckley, who were all named among the substitutes.

First Half

An early opportunity arose for the visitors when Britt Assombalonga made a run through the middle of the pitch and into the penalty area, but the danger was read well by David Wheater who out-muscled the Boro striker.

Wheater again nullified the threat from the visitors when he intercepted Assombalonga’s intended pass to Ashley Fletcher, who was set to have a clear charge on goal.

Fletcher followed this up moments later with a shot from distance but the ball didn’t trouble Remi Matthews, who saw the ball sail over his cross bar.

Boro broke the deadlock through Fletcher after 16 minutes when he took advantage of Assombalonga’s deflected shot and placed it past Matthews.

Wanderers almost responded instantly when Ameobi put in a tantalising ball into the Boro box, but it was unable to find a Wanderers player.

Assombalonga was looking to get in on the goalscoring act and after he had twisted to lose the attentions of Wheater, he saw a shot blocked by Mark Beevers.

Fletcher doubled his tally for the evening and Boro’s lead just before the half-hour make when the latched on to Mo Besic’s ball before calmly dispatching into the top right hand corner.

The striker, who was schooled in Bolton, almost completed a hat-trick but his curling effort came off the foot of the post.

Second Half

Wanderers might have pulled a goal back early in the second period when a towering header from Beevers met a Gary O’Beil corner kick, but the chance was cleared away.

The hosts hadn’t given up all hope of getting on the scoresheet and Wheater nearly sneaked a goal in at the far post, following a deflected effort heading into his path. However, the eventual shot on target didn't trouble Randolph in the Boro goal.

Assombalonga should have put the game out of sight for the visitors shortly afterwards when he was put through one-on-one with Matthews but his chipped effort somehow failed to hit the target.

Matthews got a hand to a deflected Johnny Howson free-kick as Boro looked to increase their advantage.

The Wanderers keeper was again involved in the action and was in the right place to keep out another Howson strike.

Wanderers kept fighting in the hope of dragging the game back but in truth could only muster half-chances.

A Wheater header from an O’Neil delivery could  only find its way into a sea of Boro defenders, while a first time shor from substitute Erhun Ozumer deflected for a corner.

Randolph made his first save of the night with a minute go when he got down well to keep out Ameobi.

Full Time

Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Beevers, Ameobi, Noone, Olkowski, Wilson, O’Neil, J Williams (Oztumer 72), Magennis, Wheater, Connell (Connolly 82).

Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Little, Taylor, Donaldson, Buckley

Read Time: 3 mins