Man of The Match: Middlesbrough v Bolton

Chris Brunskill

Bolton came into this clash at the Riverside ‘bang in form’ and were hoping to add to their impressive 8 game unbeaten run. Unfortunately for Dougie Freedman’s men it was not to be and Aitor Karanka was able to record a win in his first home game as Middlesbrough manager. There were some notible performances both good and bad and we will look at a select few here.

It was a day to forget for Wanderers striker Jermaine Beckford. The Jamaican forward's late penalty miss condemned Wanderers to their first defeat in 9 games. Beckford, who has been thriving as Bolton has switched to a more counter attacking style, was in the thick of the action for large periods of the second half. The Wanderers top scorer failed to convert two golden chances shortly after the interval, the type of which he has finished with ease in recent weeks.

It was evident once more that Beckford's style clashes with that of Darren Pratley. Pratley often invades territory that Beckford looks to exploit, which only serves to nullify the striker. It is also why Beckford is particularly effective in the company of on-loan midfielder Neil Danns, who looks to off load quickly from deep, which gives Beckford more room behind the centre-back pairing to attack. Beckford's torrid afternoon was compounded with a late yellow card as frustration began to fester. The real positive to take from ‘J-Beck's' afternoon is that he was still in amongst the chances, which was simply not the case at the start of the season.

A more positive performance was that of 'North West Championship Player of the Year' Jay Spearing. Spearing was locked into an intense midfield battle with the impressive Grant Leadbitter. Spearing, captain on the day, took a nasty-looking tackle from Leadbitter, culminating in a yellow for Leadbitter. Spearing also made a crucial pass to Beckford which, as discussed, the forward was unable to convert. Spearing's range of passing allowed Bolton to move out of their half quickly and he and the also impressive Medo Kamara worked tirelessly breaking down the Boro attacks as Bolton looked to replicate another ‘perfect' away performance.

The Man of The Match for me goes to Matt Mills. Mills gave a real commanding performance and his countless blocks and headers from Middlesbrough crosses on a different day would have seen Bolton come away with another clean sheet. His defensive partner, Tim Ream was some what out-of-sorts and it was his trip of Marvin Emnes that ultimately cost Bolton dearly, although given Ream's form this season, it would be harsh to criticise too heavily. Mills' quickness was also on show today, breaking the lines to charge down shooting opportunities frequently.

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