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Middlesbrough v. Bolton Wanderers: Match Preview

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This is the last game for Jimmy Phillips and his Merry Band of Boys, before permanent manager Dougie Freedman takes over. With two excellent results already under their belts, they'll want to go out on a good note...

More of this please
More of this please
David Rogers

A comeback win against Bristol City, and a comeback draw against high-flying Wolverhampton Wanderers are certainly two very good results. This weekend's challenge is Middlesbrough, who like Wolves, are having a very good season thus far. They've won 3 out of their last 4 games, the fourth match being a draw, and I'm sure Tony Mobray will want to continue this unbeaten run of form.

If recent history is anything to go one, Bolton are going into this fixture with the upper hand. The Wanderers have scored 7 goals in their last 2 league matches against Boro. However we all know that form is probably much more indicative of the future result, and we are up against a Middlesborough team firmly in the ascendancy, while Bolton remains very much a shaky, recently relegated team.

Boro were promotion favourites last season, but their poor start set the tone for the entire season, and they finished a mediocre 14th. It has been a very different story this season, and Tony Mowbray's men have gotten 22 points in 12 games, are sitting 3rd in the table, and show no signs of slowing down. They have not been invincible though, falling to Blackpool by a score of 4-1, and losing to Millwall 3-1 earlier that month.

One of Boro's deadliest aspects is the depth of their game. Their 19 goals this season have been scored by 12 different players, the highest in the league. This will prove a big challenge for Bolton's defense, one that is still in the middle of a massive reorganisation. Jimmy Phillips spoke about this earlier,

There hasn't been an issue with Zat whatsoever. We decided to give Tim Ream a run and the thought behind it was that he's a quicker defender. We just felt with the pace at the back we could squeeze the play a little bit more. Having said that, we knew that come set plays we might leave ourselves a bit short...

You have to be willing to try little things. Sometimes they work, sometimes you have to change again. But it's important to be flexible.

There will be goals in this game, there are goals in most games concerning the Bolton defense, the key will obviously be to put them in at the other end. A big problem for Bolton of late has been the second half collapse, regardless of how the first half went, the Men in White have been doing markedly worse in the following period. However Phillips appears to have reversed that trend, actually prompting comebacks. This spirit will be vital at Riverside, given the likelihood of conceding.

Were we in the Premiership, I'd say coming out of this match with a result is fairly unlikely. But this is the Championship, a league characterised by the fact anything can happen between any two teams on any day. Coming away from this match with any points would be a fantastic way for Jimmy Phillips, Sammy Lee, and Julian Darby to end their brief but happy reign at the Reebok, and a good way to usher in Dougie Freedman. Come on you white men!