Bolton Leave Boro Wondering
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 20 Apr 2008 10:43:41
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There was massive disappointment felt across Teesside following Saturday’s home defeat to Bolton. Once again having done all the hard work earning fighting draws with Man United, away at Arsenal, Villa and Spurs we fell to the sucker punch and capitulated at home to relegation haunted Bolton. Now we’re in serious trouble again ourselves. We are left looking at others results and hoping we can eek out at least a couple of points from our last 3 games. At least we won’t be all on the beach early but it is hardly the kind of result to inspire anyone to invest in a season ticket let alone a three year ticket.


It all started so well as Boro absolutely hammered Bolton in the early few minutes. Boro’s attacking formation ripped into Bolton’s 5 man midfield. Arca and Boateng prompted from midfield while Aliadiere, Tuncay, Downing and Alves danced circles round Megson’s defence. Wheater, Arca, Tuncay and Alves all went close as we queued up to get on the end of some superb flowing football.


It was like watching Arsenal, the speed of movement and interchange, unfortunately that also extended to our inability to score. Once again as so often this season that was our undoing. Failure to cash in on that early dominance cost us dear when Bolton came out fired up after the break. No doubt they were given a real dressing down and talking to in the changes at half time as Gary Megson impressed just how vital the match was to a team for whom it was win or bust. Buoyed up attacking towards their massive free transport away following they looked a different outfit after the break.


There were warning signs for us long before Bolton scored. As we pressed forward Bolton were finding a lot more room in midfield where former Mackem Gavin McCann and the Nolan brother were pouring through. But it was the room they found in our box that was most worrying. Ross Turnbull making a rare appearance in place of the injured Schwarzer excelled as he flung himself about his goal to repel several goalbound efforts. Mind you he had to be thankful to both the frame of the goal and a phenomenal goal line clearance from Luke Young when he was eventually beaten.


Just when are we going to be awarded a penalty again? The handball by McCann from Downing’s centre was so clear, was so close to referee Alan Wiley and was so obviously deliberate. What an appalling decision. What difference it would have made.


As it was the scores were still level when Ross Turnbull made a brilliant reflex save only for the ball to break to McCann to put Bolton ahead and give them a real lifeline. Just where were the Boro defenders?


Southgate made a tactical switch bringing on Adam Johnson for Tuncay but it didn’t really work. Am not sure that Johnson always finds it easy to get into games from the bench, especially not games that are slipping out of our grasp. Rochemback came on late doors, he probably should have come on earlier, with Arca dropping back for Taylor. Late on both Poggy and Wheater pushed on and Young, Boat and Arca formed a backline. But we were short on ideas and time and didn’t really get anywhere as Bolton’s defence proved so much more solid than our own.


So suddenly it has all closed up again at the bottom. We need another win to be absolutely sure. As if it didn’t have enough edge already next week’s Wear Tees derby is going to be no place for the feint hearted.




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