Ashley Fletcher scored two first-half goals against his boyhood club as Middlesbrough ended six successive defeats with victory at relegation-haunted Bolton.
Manager Tony Pulis’s side could not have wished to face better opponents after a seven-game winless streak in an attempt to revive their floundering play-off ambitions.
Fletcher, whose double took his season’s goal tally to nine, struck after 16 and 28 minutes.
His second was the first time Boro had managed two goals in a game since beating QPR 2-0 on February 23.
Middlesbrough, who have now won eight successive league games against the Trotters dating back to August 2014, made a promising start.
Fletcher served warning of what was to follow with a rasping 20-yard drive that narrowly flew over Remi Matthews’s crossbar.
Three successive corners put Wanderers’ defence under further pressure and, while they momentarily managed to repel the visiting threat, it was not long before Boro took control.
Bolton’s defending left much to be desired in the build-up to the opening goal and when a ricochet landed at Fletcher’s feet from Britt Assombalonga’s blocked shot he finished well from 10 yards.
His second 13 minutes later was much more pleasing on the eye as Wanderers were caught with men forward, including centre-half David Wheater, after a corner.
Mo Besic provided a neat assist and Fletcher did the rest, curling a right-footed shot into the net from 12 yards.
The goalscorer could not believe the freedom he was now being afforded. A left-foot attempt from the edge of the box grazed the outside of Matthews’s upright.
Then, played in by Assombalonga’s astute ball, Fletcher forced a flying save from Matthews only for a linesman’s flag to signal offside.
There was nothing going the other way to trouble Darren Randolph, summed up by a wild swing and shot from youngster Luca Connell just before half-time.
Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Wilson, Wheater, Beevers, Olkowski, Joe Williams (Oztumer 72), Connell (Connolly 82), O’Neil, Noone, Ameobi,Magennis. Unused substitutes: Alnwick, Little, Taylor, Donaldson, Buckley.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Ayala, Flint, Fry, Shotton, Besic (Clayton 86), Mikel, Saville, Howson, Fletcher, Assombalonga (Tavernier 90). Unused substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Hugill, McNair, Downing, Gestede.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).