Middlesbrough 2 Bolton 0: Second-half charge sees dominant Boro welcome Pulis in style

Middlesbrough began the Tony Pulis era in style as second-half goals from Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga secured a 2-0 win over Bolton.

ON TARGET: Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA

Pulis’s appointment as Garry Monk’s replacement was confirmed around three hours before kick-off, and the Welshman watched events unfold from the comfort of the Riverside stands, with academy boss Craig Liddle taking charge of the team.

The former West Brom boss was able to witness a dominant display, with his new employers outplaying their opponents throughout as they claimed their second victory in the space of four days.

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There was no adverse reaction to Monk’s surprise departure, with Boro’s triumph taking them up to seventh in the Sky Bet Championship.

Bolton are still searching for their first away win of the campaign and it is easy to see why Phil Parkinson’s side are just one place above the foot of the table.

Pulis’ first game in charge will come on Saturday when Aston Villa head to Teesside, and the 59-year-old inherits a squad that was assembled at a cost of more than £50million in the summer.

He sat alongside Steve Gibson in the front row of the directors’ box at the Riverside and watched his side dominate the majority of their encounter with Bolton, only to struggle to make a breakthrough.

Their first chance came as early as the ninth minute, with full-back Cyrus Christie cutting infield to drill a low strike wide of the target, and they created chances at regular intervals as the Bolton defence dropped deep in an attempt to keep them out.

Patrick Bamford prodded Stewart Downing’s low cross wide of the target and the former Chelsea striker then hooked another shot wide before seeing a low effort saved by Bolton goalkeeper Ben Alnwick.

Alnwick also saved a back-heeled effort from Assombalonga and with Braithwaite dragging wide from a decent position on the left-hand side of the area, Boro struggled to break down their stubborn opposition.

Bolton’s attacking threat was negligible for the most part, although Sammy Ameobi, once a Middlesbrough loanee, caused some problems down the visitors’ left-hand side.

Darren Randolph did not have to make a first-half save, although he might well have been tested had Ryan Shotton not flung himself in the way of a Josh Vela shot midway through the opening period.

As it was, the Boro goalkeeper remained a spectator and his side deservedly claimed the lead four minutes after the break.

Jonny Howson released Braithwaite into the penalty area and the Denmark international looped home a shot via a deflection off former Boro centre-half David Wheater.

Braithwaite turned provider in the 67th minute, releasing Assombalonga down the left-hand side.

The striker cut infield to take on Wheater and claimed his 12th goal of the season as he drilled a crisp finish into the bottom right-hand corner.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Shotton, Gibson, Da Silva (Friend 46), Howson, Leadbitter, Downing, Bamford, Braithwaite, Assombalonga (Gestede 70). Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Ayala, Baker, Traore, Tavernier.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Little, Wheater, Beevers, Andrew Taylor (Robinson 36), Pratley, Henry, Noone (Buckley 62), Vela, Ameobi, Madine (Wilbraham 77). Subs Not Used: Cullen, Armstrong, Burke, Turner.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).