Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Boss Wants a Tougher Boro

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Boss Wants a Tougher Boro

Article excerpt

Byline: JACK PICKERING

Middlesbrough 0

Bolton Wanderers 1

GARETH Southgate has demanded increased mental strength from his Middlesbrough players after they lost to Premier League strugglers Bolton at the Riverside, writes JACK PICKERING.

Boro, who would have ended any fears they had about relegation if they'd beaten Wanderers, are instead still looking over their shoulders after failing to kill off their opponents when they had them on the rack in the first half of Saturday's game.

Instead, the visitors rallied and grabbed a priceless 1-0 win thanks to former Sunderland midfielder Gavin McCann, who scored on the hour.

Southgate was left to rue his side's first-half profligacy after they squandered half a dozen genuine chances inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour.

He said: "We've got to be tougher mentally because if you miss chances you've got to be able to say, 'right, we get a 0-0 out of the game' or you respond in the right way. We didn't. It calls for character when you play against a team like Bolton, who are fighting for their lives. You need character not only when you are having a good spell in the game but we perhaps didn't have the answers when they scored.

"I was very pleased with the way we started.

We had the chances in the first 20 minutes to be in a very strong position. But when you have those spells of pressure you've got to score and we didn't."

Bolton boss Gary Megson praised keeper Ali Al-Habsi, who pulled off a series of stupendous saves to thwart Boro. He was called upon in the first minute, when he tipped over David Wheater's header.

Soon after he palmed Tuncay's effort over and performed a similar piece of magic to deny Afonso Alves.

Boro also went close through shots from Julio Arca and Andrew Taylor.

Bolton dominated after the break and scored the winner in the 60th minute when Gary Cahill evaded his marker to head Matthew Taylor's corner at goal. …

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