Ashley Fletcher was magnificent in Middlesbrough’s win at Bolton last night, scoring both goals against the club he supported as a boy, and single-handedly reviving his side’s play-off dreams.
Apart from his goals, his all-round performance caught the eye, and but for the woodwork, he would have been taking the match ball home with him.
He was a constant threat alongside Britt Assombalonga, with the pair causing problems for a Bolton side who, frankly, have a bigger battle ahead than the one on the football pitch.
Fletcher has had to wait for his opportunity — much to the frustration of many Boro’ fans — and now he has made his mark, he needs a run in the team.
He now has five league goals this season, and nine across all competitions, but he is not stopping there.
He is on the hunt for double figures, and after admitting his disappointment at being shipped out on loan up the A19 to Sunderland last season, is determined to make the most of his chance.
He told the Teesside Gazette after the game: “Last season was bitterly disappointing for me, there’s no getting away from that, spending the second half of the season on loan at Sunderland.
“I had to come back, wait patiently and prove myself and that’s all you can do in football, you can wait for your opportunity and as long as you take it you can be happy with yourself.
“But I’m not resting on my laurels, I want more, I want double figures and I want to get Middlesbrough in the play-offs.”
Fletcher who grew up in Bolton has a lot of sympathy for his boyhood team, but the striker knew that sentiment was not a factor last night, with a win the only important thing on his mind.
“I just wanted three points tonight, that’s all I came for, that’s all that mattered but for me to get two goals was great,” he added.
He certainly did the job last night, and justified the fans’ demands for him to be starting all the time.
But with Tony Pulis’ post-game comments hinting that he may yet be rested again after the next game, there is likely to be a furious reaction from the supporters — particularly if he adds to his tally against Hull on Saturday — if he is demoted to the bench once again.
If he is serious about reaching the play-offs and the riches that lie beyond them, Pulis simply must play Fletcher in every game between now and May.
What did you think of Fletcher’s man of the match performance yesterday? Do you expect him to be given a decent run in the starting lineup now? Let us know your thoughts…
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