George Saville was delighted with his first Middlesbrough goal after marking his full debut with the opening strike in his side’s 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers.
Saville, a summer signing from Milwall, helped fire Boro up into second in the Championship table.
Britt Assombalonga capped the victory with a late strike as Tony Pulis’ side bounced back from last weekend’s defeat against Norwich City.
Saville was pleased with the goal, but says the three points was more important.
And he believes Boro’s patience paid off in the end after encountering a resilient Bolton side.
“It was important for us to bounce back from the weekend,” Saville said.
“It’s a great start for me personally but the three points is the main thing.
“Bolton are a hard team to play against, that’s their first defeat of the league season away from home.
“They sit in, they defend well and the manager has them well organised.
“It took us a little bit of time to break them down but we got the first and the second shored it up for us.”
Pulis opted to ring the changes in the wake of Saturday’s setback in Norfolk, switching to a flat back four instead of the five-man defence he had been fielding in recent games.
The Boro boss also handed Jordan Hugill a first league start in place of Assombalonga, and the hosts spent most of the first half trying to feed the ball in to the West Ham loanee.
As the opening period wore on, Boro gradually became more threatening. Hugill thought he should have had a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Mark Beevers, then Jonny Howson twisted past his marker before firing over from 25 yards.
Even so, Bolton were holding out reasonably well before an error from former Middlesbrough midfielder O’Neil undid all their good work.
Stewart Downing’s long-range strike was blocked, but O’Neil attempted a dreadful pass to his own goalkeeper which instead struck David Wheater. The ball broke kindly for Saville and the summer signing swept home.
Only a smart save from Ben Alnwick prevented the home side doubling their lead after an overlapping Ryan Shotton drilled in a low strike.
Martin Braithwaite whistled another effort over the crossbar shortly before the break, and the interval arrived without Bolton having mustered a single effort at goal.
That changed in the early stages of the second half when former Middlesbrough full-back Jonathan Grounds fired over the crossbar.
They had another chance on the hour mark. Grounds’ deflected shot fell nicely for Josh Vela, but the striker could only direct a tame side-footed effort straight at goalkeeper Darren Randolph when he should really have scored.
But Assombalonga came off the bench late on, and when Marc Wilson failed to deal with a late long ball, the substitute galloped clear to score.