Bolton Wanderers 0 Middlesbrough 0

Last updated : 12 February 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough denied Bolton the chance to break a 93-year club record when they forced a goalless draw at the Reebok.

Wanderers with five successive wins behind them, needed one more to achieve their best run of victories in the top flight since 1912.

However, a dogged display by injury-ravaged Boro put paid to that, and in a dismal game a share of the points was probably the fairest result.

Kevin Nolan for Wanderers and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for Boro went closest to breaking the deadlock, but neither side really deserved the full three points, in a game that wasn't helped by the strong swirling wind.

It was the 100th league meeting between the two clubs but both managers faced selection problems before the game.

Wanderers striker El-Hadji Diouf injured an ankle while on international duty with Senegal in midweek, but although missing from the starting line-up was able to fill one of the places on the bench.

His place went to captain Jay-Jay Okocha, who was back in the side after a four-match lay-off through a knee injury.

Wanderers' injury problems, however, were virtually non-existent in comparison with the crisis facing Steve McClaren at Middlesbrough.

He was without Gaizka Medieta, Mark Viduka, George Boateng, Ugo Ehiogu and Malcolm Christie, while suspensions for Ray Parlour and Bolo Zenden meant his first choice midfield was wiped out.

That left Boro lining up with five at the back, with Doriva, Stewart Downing and James Morrison in midfield.

McClaren did have some good news with the return of Hasselbaink and Chris Riggot after injury, while Szilard Nemeth was fit again after a calf strain and able to claim a place on the bench.

That did not stop them creating the first chance of the game after only two minutes. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer's long goal kick evaded Tal Ben Haim and Hasselbaink was left clear on goal against Jussi Jaaskelainen. But the striker wasted the chance when he put the ball wide.

Yet although Boro had the better of the early exchanges Wanderers went within inches of taking a 15th minute lead.

Nolan set up the chance by striking a 20-yard shot that Schwarzer did well to palm against the angle of bar and post. The ball rebounded kindly to the unmarked Kevin Davies but he could not get enough power on his header and Schwarzer was able to save.

Boro quickly put that behind them to set up another attack.

Michael Reiziger raced clear down the left and attempted to move the ball towards the unmarked Hasselbaink at the far post, but his cross lacked power and direction and Jaaskelainen was able to claim.

Schwarzer had to work harder at the other to end to push a 25-yard piledriver from Anthony Barness round the post but generally the home side's performance was disappointing. They enjoyed a lot of possession but failed to put slick passing moves together.

They had a chance to do that at the start of the second half when Ricardo Gardner made a blistering run down the left and crossed into the six-yard box, but Nolan, with the goal at his mercy, was unable to get the vital touch.

Two minutes later, Nolan was again only inches away from pushing the ball into the net after Davies flicked on Okocha's long throw.

Wanderers were still failing to create any telling moves to test Boro's resistance and in the 53rd minute made a tactical change, bringing on Diouf for the disappointing Stelios.

That brought an immediate response and Schwarzer had to save well to keep out a long-range shot from Okocha.

Middlesbrough, however, were still eager to go forward and a charging run through the middle by Morrison should have brought them better reward, but Hasselbaink put the resulting shot wide.

The visitors brought on Nemeth for Joseph Desire Job in the 67th minute and there was an immediate rush on the Bolton goal, but Ivan Campo cleared the danger with an overhead kick.

For their part, Wanderers brought on teenage striker Ricardo Vaz Te and he had an immediate effect, taking the ball off a dawdling Reiziger and producing a cross that was only just too high for Diouf.

Next it was Gary Speed's turn to try and break the deadlock with a sizzling 20-yard shot that flew a foot wide of the post.

Yet Boro were left rueing a chance in the closing minutes when Morrison again charged through and slipped the ball through to Hasselbaink, but Jaaskelainen just managed to get his fingers to the ball to save the situation.

Then it was Schwarzer's turn to produce a goal-defying save as he smothered Okocha's fierce effort.

Man of the match: Mark Schwarzer.

The giant Aussie goalkeeper was a tower of strength for Boro and prevented Wanderers achieving their sixth Premiership win on the run.