BORO carried out a spirited smash and grab raid to win 2-1 at Bolton as Kike flicked home a late winner in a pulsating game that wasn’t always polished but had penalties at either end and plenty of endeavour and steel. And a little a bit of luck.
Boro looked crisp and inventive for the opening spell – as at Leeds – then were rocked against the run of play as Bolton won a penalty. But Boro got a break. Seb Hines could – should? – have been shown a red card. He stayed on. Had Boro been down to 10 men then it may well have been game over but he was let off lightly. It was pay back for the misfortune of the Albert Adomah goal ruled out at Leeds. Swings and roundabouts.
But Boro showed great resilience in bouncing back. Against Leeds the set-back of a pivotal decision going against them threw them completely, they lost some fizz, the tempo dropped off and they ceded tactical control. This time they dug in, fought back and went toe-to-toe with long-ball Bolton and clawed back.
Obviously they were given a helping hand by David Wheater – “one of our own” – who made a brave bid to gain one on the coveted Gazette stars by giving Boro a parmo powered penalty just before the break. He had his arms out trying to shield Kike from behind and when the striker flicked the ball up and tried to wriggle free Wheater handled. Nice one Redcar Rock. Your free pass for the Mungle Jungle is in the post.
It was Boro’s first penalty of 2014 and the first one away from home for 19 months. The last one was, ironically, in a clash with Bolton: the 1-0 at the Riverside last November when Leadbitter buried his spot-kick and Beckford had one of his own in the last minute but sent it soaring over the bar and into the police control box.
The second half was a scrap. It was a tense, error strewn, end-to-end, high-tempo tussle, a real Championship battle. It was anyone’s game. Craig Davies and impressive wideman Lee went close then Jermaine Beckford came on and put on in the side-netting then had a “goal” ruled out after barging Ayala aside.
But Boro had chances too. Lee Tomlin smashed a shot straight at the keeper then Adam Reach brought a full length save before Boro broke through with a slick move, Tomlin feeding Reach who slotted into the box and Kike turned it over the advancing Bogdan, his third goal in four games, and after a relatively subdued game . It was fantastic and entertaining stuff, although the closing stages were nerve-shredding and frantic.
Still, it was a fantastic result as Boro showed real grit to come from behind and bounce back from the disappointment at Leeds. The boss was relieved on the whistle but full of praise for Boro’s workrate, character and organisation as they stood up to a difficult challenge against a decent Bolton side.
It was the first win at Bolton’s new ground too so that is a real hoodoo ended. Boro also won the curtain-raiser this term for the first time in six years and the first time in this division since 1998. And last term we didn’t have a post-Christmas wobble. Karanka has no respect for Boro’s traditions.
THE last time Boro won at Bolton was at the tatty old Burnden Park back in April 1987. Bernie Slaven scored three minutes from time to seal a scrappy 1-0 win that all but sealed the fate of both clubs that term.
For Bruce Rioch’s bottle blond Boro boys it opened a five point gap behind them and all but cemented them into second spot in division three.They went on to finish with seven wins out of eight, the only draw a goalless game against Wigan that ended with a jubilant party on the pitch in the final home fixture.
For Bolton it pushed them into the relegation spots and they were not to escape. They were to be relegated to the fourth division for the first time in their history.
To give a sense of the division that year Boro’s previous game had been a 1-1 draw ith Darlington at Ayresome Park, a rare derby played out in front of a 11,969 crowd and Boro’s first ever Sunday game (with a bizarre 11am kick-off).
The following game was to be another rare league clash, a 3-1 home win over near neighbours York. Mighty Boro’s side that day was: Pears, Parkinson, Cooper, Mowbray, Pallister, Ripley, Kerr, Hamilton, Spriggs, Slaven, Stephens. Gary Gill was on the bench.
That was 27 years ago. Blimey. Of the current Boro squad only Dimi. Woody, Grant Leadbitter, Dean Whitehead and Damia Abella were even born then. It was a different club, a different world. Another hoodoo smashed. Let’s rewrite history.