Control. That was the theme of our preview ahead of this match. Before Bolton's clash with Middlesbrough, the playoff picture was out of the Trotters' hands as they sat outside of the top six. The Trotters would have to keep winning to stand a chance but ultimately, other teams' results would play a massive role.
Bolton started the first half very brightly as efforts from Craig Davies and Medo Kamara stung the hands of Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele. Neither shot would go in but it certainly signaled the intent that the men in white had. Those two men, Medo and Craig, put in phenomenal shifts throughout their respective days and it was clear that their strength was two much for Boro to hold off.
Kamara was once again a force in midfield as he consistently dispossessed the Middlesbrough players in midfield and cut out so many of their attacks. Craig Davies was a menace on the edge of the area as he breezed past the likes of Jonathan Woodgate time and time again, turning and firing on a number of occasions and keeping Jason Steele on edge.
The first half would end scoreless after the match evened out near the end.
It was a manic ten minutes that defined the match in the second half. Bolton Wanderers started brightly once again and it was Chris Eagles who was the danger man for the men in white. The winger broke down his right-hand side and fired a cross in. The cross was a bit mishit and it looped over the goalkeeper, settling into the far corner, to give Bolton the lead on 50 minutes.
Five minutes later, Middlesbrough would level the affair. Their most dangerous man on the day, Mustapha Carayol, broke down the left side and fired a cross in for constantly-injured Kieron Dyer. The midfielder headed home on the 55 minute mark.
Then, three minutes later, the referee whistled for a penalty and pointed to the spot. Chris Eagles, who had an excellent match, sent Chung-Yong Lee into the box. The Korean winger was upended by Justin Hoyte and Bolton Wanderers had the chance to go ahead. Marvin Sordell took the penalty kick and his shot had Steele guessing the right way and getting ah and on the ball. It fortunately snuck into the bottom corner and Bolton Wanderers were ahead.
Middlesbrough would be dealt another blow as the referee raised a red card on the 64 minute mark, sending Jonathan Woodgate to the showers. The defender had picked up a yellow card during the penalty incident and then was whistled for a second offense after pulling Marvin Sordell's shirt on a breakaway. Boro would play the final 26 minutes and additional time with ten men.
Tom Eaves came on for Craig Davies on 73 minutes while Danny Butterfield would replace Marvin Sordell 15 minutes later. Bolton would weather a Boro storm but would hold on to hear the final whistle go in their favor.
The win, Bolton's eighth in a row at home, coupled with a 2-2 Leicester City draw at Crystal Palace and a Nottingham Forest draw against Barnsley would see the men in white get back into the playoff places. Bolton sit in sixth place, a point clear of Leicester City and two above Nottingham Forest. The Trotters are just a point behind fifth-place Crystal Palace and three behind fourth-place Brighton & Hove Albion.
Bolton travel to the champions next weekend before finishing the season at home to Blackpool. For now, Bolton are in control.