Report: Middlesbrough 2-1 Bristol City
Saturday, April 14th 2018
City couldn’t make their late pressure pay as Middlesbrough held on to secure a 2-1 victory at the Riverside.
Milan Djuric fired the Robins into an early lead but the host’s were level soon after, through George Friend’s glancing header.
A ten-minute pause in play saw Patrick Bamford treated for concussion midway through the first half, who was stretchered off following treatment.
Both sides had their chances but it was Boro who stole the winner through Daniel Ayala’s second-half header.
City fought to the end but Reid’s close-range volley crashed over the bar, before the full-time whistle confirmed the Robins’ first-ever league defeat at the Riverside.
Lee Johnson named an unchanged starting XI from side which kicked-off their 3-1 home win over Birmingham City just four days earlier.
Only Jamie Paterson dropped out of the 18-man squad, missing the trip to the Riverside through illness. He was replaced by Hordur Magnusson on the bench, who has recently recovered from a knee injury.
A FAST START
Both sets of fans were treated to two goals inside the opening 20 minutes, with attack perhaps the best form of defence as the sides fight for a top-six finish.
Jonny Howson looked bright as he went close to giving Boro the lead but he dragged his shot wide before Djuric fired the away end into party mode.
Lloyd Kelly picked out the overlapping Bobby Reid down the left whose deflected cross was headed into the path of Djuric via Marlon Pack. The strong Bosnian striker held off the pressure as he blasted the ball beyond the reach of Boro keeper Darren Randolph.
City almost doubled their lead as Kelly worked the ball down the wing once more, twisting and turning before whipping a low cross towards Josh Brownhill. The midfielder raced towards the near post and tried to hook the ball beyond Randolph, but the keeper made a block before the recovering Friend bundled the ball out for a corner.
A penalty appeal followed shortly after when Aden Flint tried to hook the ball goalwards, the ball struck the arm of the jumping Daniel Ayala although referee Andrew Madley allowed play to continue.
But despite City’s pressure, it was Friend who headed Boro’s equaliser as he glanced the ball into Fielding’s far corner from an Adama Traore corner.
CONCERN FOR BAMFORD
The Riverside then watched on as Patrick Bamford received on-the-pitch treatment for concussion, following an awkward fall. The match was delayed around 10 minutes as medical staff treated the striker, who was applauded by both sets of supporters as he was taken away via the stretcher. The Boro forward has been taken to hospital as a precaution, Middlesbrough’s social media team have since confirmed.
On came Britt Assombalonga as his replacement as the hosts played out the rest of the half on top in terms of chances: Traore fired wide after teasing Kelly and Pack and Baker and Fielding blocked Stewart Downing and Muhamed Besić before City finally cleared their lines.
Boro had the better of the chances after the break too but again wasteful finishing let then down: first Clayton struck over the bar after good hold-up play from Assombalonga, who himself misfired with an attempted lob from the edge of the area.
But City were beginning to press the home side higher up the pitch and looked to create when Bryan won possession back. He fed Korey Smith whose pass across the box fell to Brownhill but his first-time effort was blocked by Ayala.
BORO COMPLETE FIGHTBACK
And it was the Middlesbrough defender was got himself up the other end to head home their second goal of the day, which again came from a Traore corner. The winger’s floated set piece was met by the head of the unmarked Ayala, who guided the ball over the line, despite the best efforts of Brownhill.
City had their chances to grab an equaliser but Reid couldn’t stretch far enough to meet Callum O’Dowda’s cross, before Matty Taylor snatched at a chance of his own with a low, dragged shot.
But the best chance fell to striker Reid, whose volleyed attempt sailed over the bar following a cushioned header from Flint.
The result is a dent in City’s hunt for the play-offs, but it remains the target with three games remaining.
Johnson’s side next face Hull City at Ashton Gate next Saturday (April 21st, 3pm kick-off).