Elmander's strike gives Bolton a sign of progress

Middlesbrough 1 Bolton Wanderers 3

This month last year Bolton Wanderers drew 2-2 against a full-strength Bayern Munich in Bavaria in front of 66,000 fans in the Uefa Cup. We forgot about that. We did so because what we remember of Bolton last season is that Nicolas Anelka played his last game for them on 2 January, after which Bolton won one of the next 12 games taking them into April. They then won three of their last five to finish 16th and ensure an eighth consecutive season in the Premier League.

But along the way Sammy Lee was dismissed and Gary Megson came in and the perception of Wanderers was of a club downsizing for relegation. Yet under Sam Allardyce a squad capable of finishing eighth, sixth, eighth and seventh in the previous four seasons was assembled and the team sheet on Saturday revealed personnel dripping with experience. That contrasted with Middlesbrough, whose back five were aged 25, 24, 23, 22 and 21. "We don't get a lot of credit, we really don't," said the Bolton captain, Kevin Nolan. "I wouldn't call us ugly. Perhaps a few years ago when we first came up we were ugly at times, but we have really come on in the last few seasons."

If he can build upon his goal and all-round effort, Johan Elmander can become a Wanderers emblem. Anelka's replacement cost £11m from Toulouse in the summer but his rasping 78th-minute volley was only his second goal in white. The Swede spoke afterwards about the difficulty in acclimatising but, in Megson, Elmander has a patient, believing manager.

"One of the things we have spoken about this week is that he will never be a Nicolas Anelka because he is not the same sort of player," Megson said. "I don't know if downhearted is the right phrase but there was pressure on him. Johan's performances have been class, but we all do it, we judge on goals. But you saw the shift he put in today."

Elmander was fouled to gain the eighth-minute free-kick from which Gretar Steinsson's header went in off Kevin Davies' back. Matt Taylor made it 2-0 two minutes later and Middlesbrough never recovered. Emanuel Pogatetz thrashed in a 77th-minute hope-raiser but Elmander snuffed it out within a minute.

Goals: Stenisson (8) 0-1; M Taylor (10) 0-2; Pogatetz (77) 1-2; Elmander (78) 1-3.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2) Turnbull; Hoyte, Wheater, Pogatetz, A Taylor (Arca, 77); Aliadière (A Johnson 59), O'Neil, Digard, Downing; Tuncay, Alves (Emnes, 75). Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Hines, Grounds, Walker.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1) Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, O'Brien, Samuel; Davies, Nolan, Muamba, McCann, M Taylor (Gardner, 89); Elmander (Smolarek, 85). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Shittu, Basham, Obadeyi, Riga.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Middlesbrough Pogatetz, Digard; Bolton Wanderers Muamba, Cahill, Samuel, Nolan, McCann.

Man of the match: Elmander.

Attendance: 24,487.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor