Following on from the 1-0 defeat at Norwich, Tony Pulis made three changes to his side. George Saville, Jordan Hugill and Martin Braithwaite started, with Dael Fry, Mo Besic and Britt Assombalonga dropping to the bench.
Phil Parkinson was forced to make changes due to injury. Sammy Ameobi went off in the 2-1 defeat against QPR last Saturday, so in cameJack Hobbs, Josh Vela and Josh Magennis. Craig Noone dropped to the bench. Striker Christian Doidge was absent altogether.
Wanderers lined up in a 5-3-1-1 formation.
The hosts unsurprisingly saw the majority of the ball and looked to threaten early on down the wings, though failed to really test Ben Alnwick with their crosses.
As the first half progressed, Wanderers had slightly more of the ball, but still couldn’t create a chance for sole striker Josh Magennis. Boro were comfortably top and felt that they should have been awarded a penalty half way through the first half. Jordan Hugill fell in the box under the challenge of Mark Beevers, though the referee awarded a corner. Replays suggested Hugill went down easily, so it was the correct decision.
Just after the half hour mark, Wanderers had to make an enforced substitution. After a clash of heads, Jack Hobbs went off & was replaced by Marc Wilson.
Even though the football was turgid and unwatchable, the scoreline was still goalless up until ten minutes before half time.
And then Gary O’Neil tried something quite foolish. O’Neil was guilty of trying a risky backpass when there were two Boro players ready to pounce in the box. The ball deflected off Mark Beevers into the path of George Saville. who was left with a simple finish to score his first Boro goal.
Bolton went into half time having only had 31% possession and zero efforts on goal.
Despite an improved showing from Wanderers in the second half (which wasn’t hard after that first half performance) & the introductions of Yanic and Oztumer, the equaliser never looked like happening.
That’s not to say that Bolton didn’t have chances. Jonathan Grounds, Josh Vela, Yanic Wildschut and Josh Magennis all managed shots on goal. Vela’s was probably the best opportunity to score, but it wasn’t to be.
Late into stoppage time, Boro’s lead was doubled. Marc Wilson’s backwards header landed nicely for substitute Britt Assombalonga, who was left unmarked to finish past Ben Alnwick.
Wanderers drop to 15th in the table, with a match against bottom placed Ipswich Town coming up on Saturday.
Hopefully we’ll see a better, more attacking & determined performance.