Gavin McCann gave Bolton a huge boost in their English Premier League survival fight after his goal gave the Trotters a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
A stirring second-half performance by the visitors was capped off by McCann’s simple 61st-minute tap-in and drags Boro back into the relegation battle.
The Trotters move up two places at the expense of Reading and Birmingham, who play away to city rivals Aston Villa on Sunday.
The result left Bolton one point and two places above the drop zone, with Boro two places and four points above them.
Middlesbrough began much the better of the two teams and nearly scored with a series of goal-bound efforts.
Bolton Wanderers’ Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was on top form to parry ferocious efforts from David Wheater and Tuncay Sanli whilst Julio Arca drilled a long-range effort narrowly over the crossbar.
The Lancashire side continued to ride their luck and had their Al Habsi to thank again after he tipped French striker Jeremie Aliadiere’s effort over the crossbar.
Gary Megson’s visitors could not get a foothold in the game and were relieved to see 20-yard attempts from Andrew Taylor and Tuncay fly over the bar.
It was half-an-hour before Bolton had their first shot but home ‘keeper Ross Turnbull, making only his fifth league start in six years for the Wearsiders, blocked Matthew Taylor’s left-footed shot with his feet.
However, the visitors’ respite was brief as Boro immediately launched an attack of their own which ended with Brazil striker Alfonso Alves heading wide of the post from England winger Stewart Downing’s cross.
The contest was becoming more even as the Trotters’ Tamir Cohen found himself well placed after good work from captain Kevin Nolan but the Israel midfielder sliced his shot over the goal.
Megson’s half-time team-talk had immediate effect as his players started the second period in stunning fashion.
Turnbull made five saves in the space of seven minutes to deny two efforts from Nolan, a long-range shot from former Real Madrid defender Ivan Campo and a vicious volley from Taylor.
The Trotters came even closer when Southampton loan striker Grzegorz Rasiak connected with Taylor’s cross but his header rebounded off the crossbar.
Eventually, the pressure paid off for the visitors when midfielder McCann scored to give his club a huge lift in their fight to avoid the drop to the Championship.
Turnbull did well to parry defender Gary Cahill’s bullet header from Taylor’s corner but the ball fell to the feet of former England man McCann, who applied a simple finish to register his first league goal for the club.
Bolton’s defence fell deeper and deeper as they fought to defend their lead, but despite sustained possession, the home team lacked creativity and failed to trouble Al Habsi’s goal.
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