George Saville’s first goal in a Boro shirt and one in second half stoppage time from Britt Assombalonga proved enough to lift Tony Pulis’ side back into second place in the Sky Bet Championship.
The loan deadline day signing from Millwall scored the first goal of the game before Assombalonga notched our second in the final seconds as Boro beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 to extend the 100% start at the Riverside this season.
Boro dominated the contest, and more than deserved the win.
Ryan Shotton had been denied by some good defending inside the opening two minutes when a cross was bundled for a corner, thwarting his well timed arrival at the back post.
What appeared to be a good shout for a penalty was waved away after 20 minutes when Mark Beevers appeared to shove Jordan Hugill in the back when the Boro striker was chasing a ball in the area.
But the opening goal came shortly after the half-hour. Gary O’Neil played a suicidal ball back into his own box, the Bolton defence failed to clear, and Saville was well placed to strike home.
Bolton had offered little, and Ben Alnwick denied Shotton and Martin Braithwaite grazed the bar before the half-time whistle.
An offside flag intervened on the hour-mark when Aden Flint converted from close range after a George Friend ball into the six-yard box, and the big defender also went close with a header after a good cross from Downing.
At the other end, Saville made a timely block after Josh Magennis threatened, while former Boro defender David Wheater denied Assombalonga after his arrival as a second half substitution.
Boro did press in the closing stages, but Bolton were organised and dogged, and made the home side work hard to ensure the victory.
Five minutes were added on at the end of the second half and in the closing stages, Assombalonga latched onto a loose ball and slotted it home into the bottom right corner for his third of the campaign to maintain our unbeaten start on home turf.
Boro: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Flint, Friend, Howson, Clayton, Saville, Downing, Braithwaite, Hugill. Subs: Dimi, Batth, Assombalonga, McQueen, McNair, Fry, Besic.
Bolton: Alnwick, Lowe, Beevers, Vela, Hobbs, Olkowski, O’Neil, Williams, Magennis, Grounds, Wheater. Subs: Matthews, Little, Oztumer, Donaldson, Noone, Wilson, Wildschut.