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Middlesbrough 0. Bolton Wanderers 1.

McCann Strikes Winner

By Mark Heys
April 19 2008

Bolton Wanderers moved themselves out of the Premier League drop zone for the first time in six weeks when Gavin McCann's second half effort gave the Trotters all three points against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.

Wanderers moved up to sixteenth in the table following their victory on Teeside and top flight survival is now once again well within the realms of possibility after a few difficult weeks leading up to last week's success over West Ham.

Bolton manager Gary Megson handed on loan striker Grzegorz Rasiak his first Wanderers start in place of the suspended Kevin Davies whilst Israeli battler Tamir Cohen came into the starting line up to replace El-Hadji Diouf, who was demoted to bench duty.

It was hosts Boro who came out of the blocks with intent in the opening sixty seconds and Bolton had goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi to thank for tipping over a fierce volley by defender David Wheater after Stewart Downing had delivered a pinpoint corner into the path of the giant centre half.

In the fourth minute Al-Habsi came to Bolton's rescue again to deny Sanli Tuncay after the Turk had been picked out well by makeshift right winger Jeremie Aliadiere.

Middlesbrough had plenty of chances and possession in the opening quarter of an hour but they could not find the goal to set the tone of the game.

Afonso Alves, the Brazilian who cost Boro a cool £12 million in January, was next to test Al-Habsi in the tenth minute but the South American was unable to repeat his recent heroics against Manchester United and was foiled.

Aliadiere and Stewart Downing made life difficult for Bolton down the flanks but it was another midfielder in the shape of Julio Arca who got forward well in the next incident.

Luckily for Bolton the former Sunderland man collected Aliadiere's pass and went for goal with a hopeful shot rather than put through defender Luke Young.

Bolton's first real attempt of note came on the half hour mark when Matthew Taylor's drive stung the fingertips of stand in Boro keeper Ross Turnbull.

At the other end of the field Wheater went close again with a header this time after Downing had made a good delivery into the danger area.

As the half fizzled out Cohen blasted off target after good build up work by Kevin Nolan and Jlloyd Samuel and this proved to be the Bolton man's last piece of action as he was substituted moments later following an ugly clash of heads with the excellent Gary Cahill.

A lacklustre Bolton display in the first half was cancelled out with a fairly good second half showing and veteran midfielder Ivan Campo was first to test Turnbull after the re-start with a low drive.

Matthew Taylor saw his volley tipped over by the young Boro keeper and from the resulting set piece giant striker Rasiak headed against the woodwork from an awkward angle.

Boro had claims for a penalty turned away by referee Alan Wiley after Downing's shot had appeared to come off the arm of McCann and following this incident things just got worse for the Teesiders and better for the visitors.

On the hour defender Young headed a chipped cross come shot off the line from Bolton substitute Danny Guthrie and sixty seconds later the Wanderers forced themselves in front.

Another Bolton sub El-Hadji Diouf whipped in a corner towards Gary Cahill who saw his header well saved by Turnbull but midfielder schemer McCann was on hand to convert his third goal of the season from close range.

Shortly after, Middlesbrough cried penalty again due to another suspected incident of handball involving Andy O'Brien but again referee Wiley was having none of it.

Visiting goalkeeper Al-Habsi came into play with two routine saves to deny Wheater and Aliadiere from range and the Oman did well with just under ten to go to deny George Boateng.

Bolton make the journey to Tottenham Hotspur next weekend buoyed by their last two results and a positive result in London could make the Reebok season finale against Sunderland a carnival atmosphere rather than one of tension.

BOLTON WANDERERS: Ali Al-Habsi, Gretar Steinsson, Gary Cahill, Andy O'Brien, Jlloyd Samuel, Tamir Cohen (Danny Guthrie), Ivan Campo, Gavin McCann, Kevin Nolan, Grzegorz Rasiak (El-Hadji Diouf), Matthew Taylor

SUBS NOT USED: Stelios Giannakopoulos, Jaroslaw Fojut, Ian Walker (GK)

MIDDLESBROUGH: Ross Turnbull, Luke Young, David Wheater, Emmanuel Pogatetz, Andrew Taylor (Fabio Rochembach), Jeremie Aliadiere, George Boateng, Julio Arca, Stewart Downing, Sanli Tuncay (Adam Johnson), Afonso Alves

SUBS NOT USED: Mohammed Shawky, Jonathon Grounds, Jason Steele (GK)


Alan Wiley




Steinsson (Bolton)

Campo (Bolton)


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