Two first half goals from Ashley Fletcher eased Boro back to winning ways at the University of Bolton Stadium tonight.
There were four changes from the side that started against Swansea. An injury picked up by George Friend at the Liberty Stadium ruled him out of this one, while Adam Clayton, Stewart Downing and Jordan Hugill dropped to the bench.
In came Ryan Shotton, Mo Besic, Ashley Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga, while there was a 300th league start for Aden Flint. John Obi Mikel took over the captaincy.
David Wheater captained a Bolton side that showed three changes from that which started the defeat by Ipswich here on Saturday. Gary O’Neil was in the starting line-up, as was ex-Boro loanee Sammy Ameobi. Andrew Taylor started on the bench.
Thrusting runs from Fletcher and Assombalonga had the Bolton defence stretched as Boro started brightly with plenty pace and purpose.
It was Fletcher with the game’s first effort, a powerful drive that flew just over. Jonny Howson and Dael Fry then had shots blocked and three corners in quick succession kept up the pressure on a creaking defence.
Eventually that pressure, together with that little bit of luck that has been missing in some recent games, told. With 15 minutes played Britt Assombalonga shot from inside the box, the effort was blocked and the rebound could have gone anywhere, but fell to Ashley Fletcher who tucked home from close range.
The striker had Mo Besic to thank for setting him up for his second. A determined run through the middle from the Bosnian was complemented by the weight of the pass to Fletcher who stylishly curled beyond Remi Matthews.
Fletcher very nearly completed his hat-trick a few minutes later when set up by Howson, a shot from the edge of the box shaving a post.
Neat, confident approach play, allied with quick footwork, had Boro constantly looking for more and Bolton for answers.
There was a half chance for Bolton early in the second half when Mark Beevers rose to meet a right-wing corner only to head wide under pressure.
Quickly back on the offensive, Fletcher went for goal from a narrowing angle and his shot was deflected behind for a corner.
It was Bolton, however, who enjoyed a mini-spell of pressure, though Darren Randolph remained largely untroubled.
Twice in as many minutes Assombalonga cleared the bar when attempting to clear the ‘keeper, then Howson cracked in a low shot from 25 yards as Boro went for more.
A flurry of activity the Boro penalty area in the closing stages – when Erhun Oztumer and Ameobi (twice, once hitting the bar) went close - suggested an unnecessarily nervy finish might be in store, but a return to winning ways was never in doubt from a long way out and Tony Pulis’ side saw the job through.
Scorer Fletcher 15, 28
Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Olkowski, Wheater (Capt.), Beevers, Noone, Ameobi, Williams (Oztumer 71), Wilson, Connell (Connolly 82), O’Neil, Magennis Subs: Alnwick (gk), Little, Taylor, Donaldson, Buckley.
Boro: Randolph, Shotton, Flint, Ayala, Fry, Besic (Clayton 86), Howson, Mikel (Capt.), Saville, Fletcher, Assombalonga (Tavernier 90). Subs: Dimi, McNair, Downing, Hugill, Gestede.
Referee: Stephen Martin
No cards shown
Attendance: 12,259 (884 Boro)