Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray may claim that his Boro side were the better team against Bolton Wanderers. He may argue that the referee did the job for Bolton. What Tony Mowbray fails to realize is that save for a 15 minute spell at the end of the match when the Trotters were more than happy to absorb pressure, his team fell very short against Wanderers.
It wasn't a pretty Bolton win by any stretch of the imagination but it was a good win for the men in white. There were four Trotters that really helped the cause and each is well in for the Lion of Vienna Suite's Man of the Match award.
Darren Pratley was his usual energetic self. The midfielder ran at frenetic pace over the course of the match and proved a vital compliment to Medo in shoring up the middle. Pratley has recently proven himself as a goal threat in the midfield and came close on a few occasions on Saturday, most notably missing just wide from 25 yards out. Since Dougie Freedman's arrival at Bolton, Darren has established himself as somewhat of a link-up man between the defense and the forwards as his charging runs have helped advance the ball into key areas.
Chris Eagles scored Bolton's opener with a mishit cross that looped over Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele and found the upper corner at the far post. On top of that, it was his ball that sent Chung-Yong Lee into the box and started the play that ultimately won Bolton the penalty and the match. Chris Eagles was instrumental on both wings, whipping in a number of good crosses that Bolton men failed to score from and his corner delivery (which has often been lacking this season) created threats that Middlesbrough often struggled to deal with.
Craig Davies didn't score on Saturday but he certainly looked like he could. The match's first chance fell to him and his drive forced Jason Steele into a good diving stop. Davies proved a handful for Boro's defense and it was clear that they struggled with his size and strength as he consistently breezed past Jonathan Woodgate. His turns on the edge of the box opened up opportunities for Bolton and the physicality that he provides could be crucial to Bolton's success in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Our man of the match though was Medo Kamara. The midfield enforcer once again proved that he was a cut above the opposition and he made sure that things in midfield were tidy. Kieron Dyer and Josh McEachran made up the center of Boro's midfield and it was Medo that kept them in check before rendering McEachran ineffective for the majority of the match. Kamara was also once again a goal threat, like he proved when he scored at Charlton and created a goal against Wolves. In the opening stages, directly following Craig Davies' drive, a full-blooded volley from all of 30 yards forced Jason Steele into a spectacular save to tip the ball away from the upper corner and denied Bolton's opener. Medo is a force in Bolton's midfield and looks a good one for years to come.