Goals from Kevin Davies and substitute Bruno N'Gotty gave Bolton their first victory of the season against a toothless Middlesbrough. They struck either side of half-time to increase the pressure on Boro's manager, Steve McClaren, whose team have yet to win, and provided a welcome tonic for his counterpart, Sam Allardyce.
Middlesbrough's problem appears to be their abject failure to exploit the considerable possession they enjoy, and this trait was evident from the initial exchanges.
Boudewijn Zenden, on loan from Chelsea, looked lively early on and whipped in a shot after eight minutes that Bolton's goalkeeper, Jussi Jaask-elainen, did well to parry. During a good spell Zenden continued to cause problems for the Bolton defence. Jaaskelainen had to look alert again to get on the end of Jonathan Greening's effort from distance.
Bolton were struggling to keep the ball in the first quarter, and some sloppy passing allowed the visitors to maintain the majority of the possession. But gradually the home side began to assert themselves with more purpose, Jay-Jay Okocha firing a shot wide from 25 yards and Emerson Thome getting on the end of a free-kick from Stelios Giannakopoulos which looped over the top. They made the breakthrough after 23 minutes when Davies slipped his marker to power the ball home following a corner delivered by Giannakopoulos.
Middlesbrough's disappointment was palpable. Perhaps that caused them to lose their concentration, and Kevin Nolan nearly added a second in the 29th minute, his chip blocked well by Schwarzer.
Bolton were forced to make a change after 28 minutes when Florent Laville went down heavily and was carried off, to be replaced by N'Gotty. Middlesbrough then had a chance to equalise when a poor back- pass from the substitute was latched on to by a quick-witted Juninho, who squared the ball to Szilard Nemeth in front of the posts. However, Jaaskelainen stood tall and beat away his effort for a corner.
Bolton confidence's continued to build and, consequently, their passing became more accurate and creative, especially from Giannakopoulos, who was finding space for Nolan down the right as half- time approached. For Middlesbrough, possession alone was not enough.
Former Bolton striker Michael Ricketts came on at the start of the second half for Nemeth, to be greeted by a storm of jeers from the home supporters. Another substitution disgruntled the other set of fans when Middlesbrough favourite Juninho was replaced by Joseph-Désire Job in the 57th minute. Juninho walked slowly off the pitch and then headed straight down the tunnel. Even without the confused Brazilian, Middlesbrough continued to weave some pretty patterns, but there was little invention to go with their play.
Bolton added a second in the 80th minute after N'Gotty got on the end of an overhead kick from Giannakopoulos to head the ball home. McClaren will not enjoy the company he is keeping at the bottom of the table.
Bolton Wanderers 2 Middlesbrough 0
Davies 23, N'Gotty 81
Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 26,419
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