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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Bolton 0-0 Middlesbrough
By Saj Chowdhury

Ivan Campo and Lee Cattermole
Bolton and Boro provided few goalmouth chances
Bolton and Middlesbrough cancelled each other out in an uneventful match at the Reebok Stadium.

Boro had the best of the chances, with Yakubu's 25-yard effort saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen, before a miss by the Nigerian in front of an open goal.

James Morrison also went close for the visitors but his low shot was tipped around the post by the Bolton keeper.

Bolton's best chance came from the boot of Nicolas Anelka, but the striker had his shot well saved by Mark Schwarzer.

At times it was like watching two journeyman heavyweights slugging it out for the right to win a year's supply of tripe from the village butcher. Not for the purists.

Injuries to some key players forced Gareth Southgate into fielding quite an inexperienced Boro side that included youngsters Lee Cattermole, Adam Johnson, Morrison and Andy Davies.

Taking that into account, Middlesbrough loaded the midfield and played Yakubu as a lone striker.

Boro's tactics worked because Bolton's supply line to Anelka and El Hadji Diouf was blocked more often than not and when the ball did sneak into the area stand-in skipper Jonathan Woodgate was at hand to clear the visitors' defence.

606 VIEW

Bolton, who can never be faulted for their lack of industry, appeared devoid of inspiration at times.

Had they taken the early chances, then the crowd at the Reebok may have witnessed a slightly more buoyant display from Sam Allardyce's troops.

Much-travelled French striker Anelka should have scored after two minutes, but after picking up the ball from Kevin Nolan, his touch took it past keeper Schwarzer but also away from his own feet.

He also came close shortly before half-time when his 25-yard effort was tipped away by Boro's Australian keeper.

Southgate deserved credit for the tactics he employed. His men played Bolton at their own game.

And despite Yakubu's lone role he was well supported by the likes of Jason Euell, Cattermole and Fabio Rochemback.

Brazilian Rochemback engineered many of Boro's moves and came within inches of scoring himself, but saw his 20-yard free-kick scream over the Bolton bar.

Morrison went closer later in the first-half but his fierce low drive, that took a slight deflection, was tipped around the post by the alert Jaaskelainen.

That save was would have got 5.6 for artistic merit but his save to push away Yakubu's 25-yard bender in the second-half deserved a 6.0.

But he could do nothing about the best chance of the match that came Yakubu's way. The Boro striker was played in by Euell, Jaaskelainen missed the ball altogether but thankfully for him Yakubu's sidefooted effort went wide of the left-hand post.

Apart from that error, Jaaskelainen had a good match and received the biggest cheer of the day when he slipped over after taking a goal-kick.

  • Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate:
    "We have to be satisfied with a point even though with a bit more belief we could have won.

    "I'm particularly pleased with the way we defended because it's our first clean sheet of the season.

    "We had a young side out and they stood up to the challenge really well but as I keep saying we are going to continue growing as the season goes on."

  • Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:
    "We did not capitalise on our possession or our set-pieces from which we are normally so good.

    "Middlesbrough stuck well to their game plan and made it difficult for us to break them down.

    "There was a lack of quality from us and we squandered chances but we are satisfied with a point as we've not conceded in our last three home games."

    Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ben Haim, Faye, Meite, Fortune, Nolan (Tal 75), Campo, Speed, Diouf, Anelka, Giannakopoulos (Vaz Te 59).
    Subs Not Used: Walker, Hunt, Teimourian.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Davies, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Morrison (Parnaby 90), Euell, Cattermole, Rochemback, Johnson (Mendieta 73), Yakubu.
    Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Maccarone, Bates.

    Booked: Johnson.

    Att: 21,164

    Ref: S Bennett (Kent).


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