By Rich Brown
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City secured their second win in three games with a 2-1 victory at Middlesbrough in Tony Mowbray’s first game in charge of the Teesiders. Kris Boyd gave Middlesbrough the lead before Adomah equalised with a deflected shot. Wasteful Middlesbrough missed numerous chances, which they came to regret when Marvin Elliot scored a screamer to give City their second away win of the season.
City lined up with the same team that drew with QPR as Millen kept faith with a team that put in a good performance against the league leaders last week.
Middlesbrough started with intent, with the home side clearly doing their best to impress their new boss. Robson and Thomson were keeping and using the ball well in midfield as City were forced into their own half for much of the half.
Boyd missed an early chance and against the run of play, Stead headed over after great work by Adomah gave the striker a free header from just six yards out, but the striker headed over when he should have done better.
Middlesbrough deservedly took the lead on the half hour. McAllister lost the ball on the half way line and McDonald attacking down the right wing before delivering a good ball for Boyd, who had lost Caulker in the build-up, to volley in.
McDonald, one of the many signings from Scotland under previous manager Gordon Strachan, was causing City problems as he dropped deep to leave City outnumbered in the midfield as Middlesbrough dominated early on.
Youngster Luke Williams was also influential, with the teenager seeing his 30 yard drive tipped over by James. McDonald then missed a decent chance after being put in by Robson.
City then grabbed themselves an unlikely equaliser when Elliot put Adomah in the clear, and the young winger had a hopeful shot at goal deflected in from the unfortunate defender to gift City an equaliser.
Middlesbrough had yet another chance to score before the half was out, but Boyd missed an absolute sitter from six yards out. James had spilled his save straight to the SPL’s record goalscorer, but he could not add to his earlier goal and embarrassingly didn’t even hit the target.
Middlesbrough will know that they should have been ahead by half time, but their inability to finish their chances meant that City were level, and fortunate to be so.
City capitalised on this good fortune in the second half within the first few minutes. David Wheater headed clear following a cross but Marvin Elliot was at hand to exquisitely volley in from 25 yards to give City a 2-1 lead.
The home side’s heads dropped as their lack of self belief was evident. Their passing became sloppy, and the home crowd began to express their impatience as City began to take control. Johnson and Elliot were markedly improved in midfield and Rose was coming into the game by following Adomah’s lead of direct running at a shaky defence.
James did well to deny Wheater from a set play, before Boyd again went close, but he lacked a vital yard of pace when he struggled to get on to a cross from Kink. As the final whistle approached City defended well in numbers and the home side struggled to carve out any more chances, giving City a hugely welcome 2-1 win.
Caulker and Fontaine were impressive at the back, with the centre half pairing communicating well with James. With just two goals conceded in the last three, the defence appear to be much more solid than in previous matches, with a regular back four being key to success. Adomah was outstanding, with the former Barnet man creating all sorts of problems for the uneasy Middlesbrough defence.
Marvin Elliot was fantastic in midfield. His all-action performance was integral to City’s win and much as some may say we were lucky to win, it is a positive sign that City made the most of good fortune to get ahead and keep hold of the lead. Middlesbrough will bemoan their missed opportunities, but they only have themselves to blame. A very welcome three points for City.
Middlesbrough: Steele, McMahon, McManus, Wheater, Bates, Thomson (Lita, 68), Tavares (Kink,77), Robson, Williams (Bailey, 68), Boyd, McDonald
Goals: Boyd 30
City: James, Carey, Caulker, Fontaine, McAllister, Adomah (Campbell-Ryce, 90), Elliot, Johnson (Cisse, 87), Rose, Stead, Haynes (Pitman, 90)
Referee: C Boyeson
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