Tony Pulis has warned his Middlesbrough side they must be more clinical in front of goal if they want to stay in the promotion hunt.
The Boro boss was happy with his side's overall performance against Bolton Wanderers at the Riverside last night, as a 2-0 win moved the Teessiders up to second in the Championship.
But, after taking the lead through George Savillle in the first half, the hosts were unable to make their supremacy count and wasted several opportunities before Britt Assombalonga added a second in stoppage time.
“I thought we played really well in the first half, but we’ve got to make sure that we take our chances and the opportunities we get,” said Pulis after the game.
“When we’re in the final third, we’ve got to make sure that the passing and decision-making is better.
“There were two opportunities in the first and second half when we could have played the ball across the goal, but people have shot. If they’d played the ball across the goal, there was someone there who could have tapped it into the net.
“We have people shooting when they can play people in, and for all that we do well, we need people to really be composed in that final third. The opportunities were there today.”
The result moved Boro up to second in the Championship, one point behind leaders Leeds United.
At times it was a scrappy affair against a well-drilled Bolton side who were unbeaten away from home before last night's game.
Even so, Pulis knows there will be times when his side will have to grind our results over a long and arduous 46-game season.
“We’re going to have lots of games where it’s tight and we have to dig in and really work hard,” he said.
“I’ve managed in the Championship for quite a few years, and I don’t think there have been many games where you’ve played and you can relax.
“You have to give Bolton credit. They’ve really defended well, throwing bodies in the way in the first half, and then in the second half, for the last 20 minutes, they came out and had a go. One mistake for us or one little bit of fortune for them would have taken away the three points, so you’re on your toes all the time, even at my age.”
Pulis was also impressed with his new signings, as Saville marked his first start for the club with a goal, while striker Jordan Hugill led the line admirably and saw an early penalty appeal turned down.
“We’re obviously delighted with the win and another clean sheet,” added Pulis, who also thought Aden Flint's disallowed goal in the second half, which was ruled out for offside, should have stood.
“Again, though, there were decisions from the referee. I think the lad’s knee catches Hugill when he’s going through, and then the goal that’s disallowed, he’s (Flint) offside when George shoots, but it actually touches one of their players. As soon as it touches one of their players, he’s onside.”