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Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 17:04 UK

Middlesbrough 0-1 Bolton

By Nabil Hassan

Bolton celebrate
McCann (right) was on hand to turn in the loose ball

Gavin McCann's 60th-minute goal secured three vital points for Bolton that saw them climb out of the bottom three.

McCann volleyed home from six yards after Middlesbrough keeper Ross Turnball had superbly kept out Gary Cahill's close-range header.

Minutes earlier, Bolton's Grzegorz Rasiak hit the bar with Matt Taylor also volleying against the post.

Boro started brightly, but the impressive Ali Al Habsi pulled off several fine saves to deny the hosts.

Interview: Bolton boss Gary Megson

Birmingham, who face Aston Villa on Sunday, replace Wanderers in the bottom three, with three games left to play.

Despite Bolton's lowly position in the Premier League relegation zone it was hosts Middlesbrough who started like they were in desperate need of the points.

Their first chance came inside a minute with David Wheater volleying Stewart Downing's corner towards goal only for Al Habsi to produce a stunning save, tipping the ball over the bar.

Minutes later Al Habsi was again equal to a goalbound effort, this time tipping Tuncay's strike over the bar as Middlesbrough continued to press.


Alves was next to test Al Habsi but again he was equal to it, tipping over the bar for yet another Boro corner.

Boro's wide men of Downing and Jeremie Aliadiere continued to cause the Bolton defence a torrid time in a scintillating opening 10 minutes but the visitors just about held on.

As they half wore on Bolton started to compose themselves and slowly started to come into the game.

But they failed to trouble the Boro defence in a disappointing first-half for Gary Megson's men.

Interview: Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate

Bolton also lost Tamir Cohen before the break with a nasty injury after a clash of heads with Cahill, with Danny Guthrie coming on.

While their first-half performance was poor, Bolton's second 45 minutes could just about define their season.

Driven forward by the impressive Taylor they went in search of a vital winner.

Taylor had the first effort of the second period with his 20-yard half-volley turned around the post by the previously untroubled Turnball.

From the resulting corner Rasiak headed against the bar as Bolton continued to press for the opening goal.

Boro were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after McCann had handled the ball in the area, but no penalty was given much to the fury of the Riverside faithful.

Soon after Rasiak became the second Bolton player to go off with a facial injury with El Hadji Diouf replacing him up front.

Guthrie then came close to opening the scoring with his looping shot superbly headed off the line by Luke Young, with Taylor then hitting the post before Boro eventually cleared for a corner.

From the resulting corner Bolton did open the scoring with McCann smashing the ball home from close range after Turnball had kept out Cahill's close-range header.

The game was far from over but despite late pressure, Boro failed to break down a resilient Bolton defence who held on for a massive three points.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
"We had enough chances to have the game under control at half-time.

"Our attitude was right and we were up for it and were the better side for 45 minutes, but their keeper kept them in it and they have him to thank.

"In the second-half, Bolton came flying out the traps and we never threatened them. We weren't clever enough with our football.

"Until you are mathematically safe you have to be ready for every eventuality and we have to respond to this defeat."

Bolton manager Gary Megson:
"Today was not a classic performance and we set off poorly. We were fortunate to go into half-time at 0-0.

"But we played well in the second-half and it really was a case of two halves.

"Ali (Al Habsi) in goal was superb and he pulled off some class saves. When you have a keeper who can do that, then you have a chance.

"At this stage of the season you roll up your sleeves and hope that is good enough and we have given ourselves a chance."

Middlesbrough: Turnbull, Young, Wheater, Pogatetz, Taylor (Rochemback 74), Aliadiere, Boateng, Arca, Downing, Alves, Sanli (Johnson 64).
Subs Not Used: Steele, Shawky, Grounds.

Bolton: Al Habsi, Steinsson, Andrew O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel, Nolan, Cohen (Guthrie 45), Campo, McCann, Taylor, Rasiak (Diouf 56).
Subs Not Used: Walker, Giannakopoulos, Fojut.

Booked: Steinsson, Campo.

Goals: McCann 61.

Att: 25,037

Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Bolton's Ali Al Habsi 7.85 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Premier League as it happened
19 Apr 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
19 Apr 08 |  Football
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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