Championship: Albert Adomah earns Middlesbrough 1-0 win over Bolton
Last Updated: 25/02/15 6:47pm
Middlesbrough kept up the pressure on Sky Bet Championship leaders Derby as they ground out a scratchy 1-0 victory over Bolton.
Albert Adomah's first-half strike was enough to secure the Teessiders their first win in three matches, and ensure they remained in an automatic promotion place despite their slight recent wobble.
Their triumph would have been more emphatic had Patrick Bamford not spurned a succession of decent openings either side of the interval, but, with the visitors lacking confidence and guile up front, the final outcome was never really in doubt.
Lee Tomlin curled a late free-kick against the crossbar as Boro pushed for a second goal, and Aitor Karanka's side withstood some late Bolton pressure to clinch the win and stay three points clear of the play-off positions.
Boro suffered their first home defeat since August when they lost to Leeds at the weekend, and the hosts appeared to be suffering a hangover as they stuttered their way through the opening stages.
Ryan Fredericks' nervous early back-pass almost afforded Emile Heskey a clear run on goal, and Bolton centre-half Dorian Dervite should really have done better when he headed Barry Bannon's free-kick over the crossbar from an inviting position in the penalty area.
It took Boro half an hour to construct a threatening attacking move, but it was worth the wait as Tomlin's delightful back-heel enabled Grant Leadbitter to supply Bamford through the middle.
The striker's prodded shot was saved by the outstretched boot of Bolton goalkeeper Ben Amos, but the hosts appeared to be energised by their rare foray into the area, and four minutes later they were ahead.
Tomlin was the architect again, threading a delightful ball between Dervite and David Wheater to release Adomah through the middle. The winger had gone 20 games without scoring, but showed no signs of nerves as he slotted a calm finish past Amos.
Suddenly, Boro were firmly on the front foot, and they would have doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time had their leading scorer, Bamford, not displayed some rare rustiness in the six-yard box.
A scramble in the penalty area ended with Adomah prodding the ball into his path, but he blazed over from close range with the goal seemingly at his mercy.
He was similarly wasteful nine minutes into the second half, sweeping a shot wide of the right post after George Friend's tenacity teed him up in the area.
Bolton's attacking threat was largely restricted to set-pieces, but neither Heskey nor fellow veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen were able to test Boro goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos with headers from second-half corners.
Tomlin almost doubled Boro's lead with a minute remaining, but his curled free-kick rebounded off the crossbar with Amos beaten.