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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Friday, April 13th 2018

Big Match Preview: Middlesbrough away

City have a chance to leapfrog Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship and keep the pressure on their other play-off chasing rivals.

Lee Johnson's side head to the Riverside in high spirits after their confidence-boosting win against Birmingham City on Tuesday evening.

But no games are easy, particularly at this time of the year with lots at stake, and Boro will no doubt set themselves up for a battle to the end.

However, City have never lost a league game at the Riverside and they will be out to continue that trend on Saturday.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1876
Nickname: Boro, Smoggies
Website: www.mfc.co.uk
Twitter: @Boro
Ground: Riverside Stadium
Capacity: 34,000

Honours:
Second Division: winners – 1926/27, 1928/29, 1973/74, 1994/95.
Northern League: winners – 1893/94, 1894/95, 1896/97.
League Cup; winners -2003/04.
FA Cup: runners up: 1996/97.

Last season:
Premier League: 19th
FA Cup: Quarter-final, lost to Manchester City.
EFL Cup: Second round, lost to Fulham
Top scorer: Alvaro Negredo, 10 goals.
Average attendance: 30,449.

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Now in their 141st year, Boro are back competing in England’s second tier after succumbing to relegation from the Premier League last season.

They were one of the original 20 clubs to compete in the Premier League, when it was rebranded from Division One in 1992. Middlesbrough were also one of the first teams to be relegated at the end of its inaugural season.

But the club may not have even existed by this point after falling into financial difficulty in 1986 and they were was saved after being taken over by a consortium, led by eventual club chairman Steve Gibson.

The club has not fallen out of England’s top two divisions for 31 years and it has attracted big names from the football world over the years: Bryan Robson, Juninho, Paul Ince and Christian Ziege to name but a few, not forgetting former defender and current England manager Gareth Southgate who spent five years at the Riverside between 2001-2006.

Tony Pulis

MEET THE GAFFER - TONY PULIS

The former Bristol Rovers player took charge at the Riverside on Boxing Day, following Garry Monk's departure for Birmingham City.

Pulis, 60, has vast experience as a manager, notably in the Premier League with Stoke City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.

While he has never guided a team to a title, he did lead Gillingham to runners up in the Third Division in 1996 and Stoke as runners up in the Championship in 2008.

He also tasted FA Cup final defeat with the Potters, when they lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the 2011 final.

Adam Traore in action at Ashton Gate

STAR MAN - ADAMA TRAORE

The young midfielder signed for Aston Villa for £7 million before he joined the Boro setup for the 2016/17 season.

The Barcelona Academy graduate, now 22, felt the pain of relegation last season as Boro dropped out of the Premier League, so he does have some early experiences on his football CV and will be one to watch both now and in the future.

The winger has added goals to his game in the current calendar year, five since January 20th. He's also been on the receiving end of two red cards this season, so that will be an area he'll want to manager better as he develops further.

Heading into Saturday's fixture, Traore was listed in WhoScored.com's best Championship XI of the season so far, with a rating of 7.6. He's an accomplished player on the ball and a good crosser too.

Scott Murray

MEMORABLE MEETING

Bristol City 2-2 Middlesbrough

FA Cup fourth round, Saturday, January 27th 2007

Goals: Yakubu 4, Malcolm Christie 23, Richard Keogh 53, Scott Muarry 59.

City recovered from staring at a 2-0 defeat thanks to a wonder strike from Scott Murray.

The visitors took an early lead at Ashton Gate through Yakubu, before Malcolm Christie double their advantage midway through the first half.

But City were not going to roll over and Richard Keogh's looping header converted Lee Johnson's free kick before Murray's moment of magic earned Gary Johnson's side a replay.

Another Johnson free kick was pushed away by Mark Schwarzer but the ball fell to Murray, who looped it over the Australian and into the net, in front of the Match of the Day cameras.

City and Boro played out another four-goal thriller at the Riverside in February but Boro would go on to win 5-4 in a penalty shootout.

City had beaten York, Gillingham and Coventry to earn their FA Cup place against the Premier League club.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Andrew Madley
Neil Davies and Steven Meredith
Fourth Official: Carl Boyeson

Betting (via SkyBet) - Odds correct at time of writing
Boro 17/20
Draw 12/5
City 7/2