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Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Middlesbrough: Immediate Reaction

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We got beat...again

Oldham Athletic V Bolton Wanderers- Sky Bet League One Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Wanderers continued their terrible start to the season by succumbing to a 0-3 home defeat against the Leagues’ big spenders, Middlesbrough. 2 goals from Britt Assombalonga and 1 from Johnson sealed Wanderers fate. Is all as glum as it seems though? No. Read on...

Wanderers started the match much changed; with Antonee Robinson, Ben Alnwick, Stephan Darby, Derik Osede and Craig Noone all coming in. The formation was finally changed from 3-5-2 to a 4-1-4-1 set up. It wasn’t long before Middlesbrough opened their account, taking just 13 minutes for Assombalonga to find the net. Fearing the impending pounding I braced for more but they didn’t come. We finished the first half 0-1 down - still in it. Despite Middlesbrough dominating after the break there was something far better about Wanderers than there had been in previous games. Had we faced Middlesbrough a few weeks ago, we’d have already been dead and 6 feet under. As we were down, Parkinson brought Derik, who was sitting in front of the back 4 to good effect, off for Cullen. I still think this was the right move but Wanderers conceded 2 in quick succession leaving defeat a certainty. The full match report will follow shortly.

There’s understandably a lot of doom and gloom given we’re still without a win in the league and find ourselves rooted to the bottom of the table. There are however positives to take from today and perhaps even our position.

When just looking at the performances today it is clear Antonee Robinson is a cracking attacking full back. He could even be a more effective winger for us than defender. He has pace, is direct and isn’t afraid to dribble in tight situations. His defending is being questioned given 2 of the 3 goals came down his side today but he was up against Adama Traore, perhaps the best player in the league. I think judging Robinson’s defensive prowess against such a gifted player is unwise. Lets see him against more representative opposition and then make a judgement.

Derik also looked good sitting in front of the back four. This is by far his best position and he more than dealt with most of what Middlesbrough chucked at us (there was a lot). It was very telling of his contribution that soon after he went off, two goals were conceded. He should be starting more often.

The formation change is also cause for positivity. I know this sounds odd but we offered far more going forward and looked more stable on the wings than we have using 3-5-2. The score line is probably a fair one but there were far more bright spots in this drubbing than there have been in any other (a depressing statement).

Finally a reason to not be as downbeat as you probably are right now. Our opening fixture were incredibly difficult. Facing the likes of Hull City, Middlesbrough and Derby County in our first few games was always going to be difficult. I predicted we’d have 4 points after this game at the start of the season and we have 2, not exactly a world away. A quick glance over the opening fixtures and I think most would agree that we’ve had a really tough opening innings and that the table isn’t exactly representative of what it will be come the end of the season. So lets try and stay as positive as can be. On to the next one.