ADAM Clayton hailed Middlesbrough’s dressing room unity as key to Boro’s victory at Bolton Wanderers.
The midfielder made his first start for Boro since joining from Huddersfield Town as Boro came from behind to beat the Trotter 2-1.
Wanderers had taken the lead through a Craig Davies penalty, but Middlesbrough hit back through a spot-kick of their own just before half-time, scored by Grant Leadbitter, and Kike’s effort 12 minutes from time saw them seal the win.
The victory, a first at Bolton in 27 years, immediately banished Saturday’s 1-0 loss against Leeds.
Two penalties in the first-half, one for both sides, meant the game was level at 1-1 going into the interval before Spanish sensation Kike completed the fightback by scoring a classy winner.
Grinding out the win was, according to Clayton, indicative of the squad’s character under the tutelage of Aitor Karanka: “You couldn’t ask for a better night – a win and a good performance,” the 25-year-old reflected. “The way we won the game was great.
“We went behind and came back which showed the dressing room character and that we are all together.
“When they got the goal we galvanised and got round each other.
“I think it shows the spirit in the dressing room, how together we are all that we can come back after a very disappointing loss to Leeds in the last minute.
“To turn that around in three days shows that the lads are all together and what we all want to achieve.”
That is promotion but the game didn’t start as planned for the visitors who despite recording three chances via Kike fell behind before the half-hour mark.
Despite dominating possession for the majority of the first half, Middlesbrough did not work Adam Bogdan in the home goal.
The Trotters then won a penalty in the 27th minute. Davies was put through on goal before being taken down in the area by Seb Hines, which saw the Boro defender lucky to escape with a yellow card. Davies then blasted the ball into the top right corner to put the home side into the lead.
The visitors had a penalty claim of their own as Lee Tomlin tumbled over inside the box, although referee Stephen Martin turned that appeal down. Former Boro captain David Wheater gifted Boro an equaliser just before half-time when he handled in his own box.
Grant Leadbitter converted the penalty and Boro stepped things up a notch in the second-half.
Lee Chung-yong and Liam Feeney both dragged chances wide for the hosts but Boro sub Adam Reach came closest to finding the target when his powerful volley from distance was expertly tipped around the post by Bogdan.
The next attack Boro saw them taking the lead. Kike was played through on goal and cooly dinked the ball over the onrushing Bogdan to put Boro ahead.
And ahead they stayed, despite Jermaine Beckford scoring a disallowed goal and an attacking surge from the hosts.
Clayton admitted the final minutes were a “bit twitchy-bum time but that’s always going to happen and we got through it.”
He added to BBC Tees: “Once we got the second we then dug in and seen out the win. Everyone loves to win 4-, 5-0 and have an easy night but for long periods controlled it and were never really in danger.”