Phew! Back to Back Wins for Boro
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 14 Apr 2019 11:15:00
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There was an almighty sigh of relief around the Riverside as somehow the finger tips of Darren Randolph prevented a goal bound free kick from ruining everything. It was just about the only outstanding save Randolph had to make, although Hull had squandered many chances including missing a diving header infront of an open goal. But for once Boro's slender one goal lead had proved enough for 3 points and back to back wins. The six defeats may have destroyed our realistic promotion hopes and much else besides but they are behind us now.

Boro started with an unchanged side from the team that finally broke the losing sequence with a win at doomed Bolton. On a sunny but in the shade freezing April afternoon there were wide open spaces at the Riverside. Although the numbers were nothing like as low as at away at Bolton this was surely easily our lowest crowd of the season and on the day after season card renewal deadline that surely represents bad news for next term.

Hull City started confidently, as you would expect from a team that had won their last three games and since October they have bagged more points than anyone outside the top three. Wide-man Kamil Grosicki tormented us early on and hotshot scorer striker Jarrod Bowen was a constant thorn in our defences. Yet Flint, Fry, Shotton and Ayala stuck to their tasks and slowly but surely Boro started to break out and take the game to the visitors.

The all important goal came when in-form Ashley Fletcher spun free, darted down the line and looking up to pick out strike partner Britt Assombalonga in the centre. Actually the pass was slightly behind our centre forward but he adjusted his stride to finish from almost under the cross bar.

Boro should have doubled the lead straight after when Fletcher headed across the goal but Saville and Howson seemed to get in each others way at the far post. Yet Boro had plenty more opportunities before the break and were desperately unlucky when Britt turned and blasted the ball against the under side of the bar, down and back into play. Hull's veteran keeper, David Marshall, had to be on his toes and at his very best to keep us at bay. A battling performance by George Saville would have been crowned by a goal had his first half free kick not been thwarted by the flying Marshall. We seemed to get stronger and stronger as the half continued and didn't really want to hear that half time whistle.

Hull regrouped at half time and came out as they meant business storming towards our goal. Boro were clinging on at times and enjoying the rarity of opponents being woeful finishers. In fact Hull almost equalised because a succession of hopelessly miscued shots caused mayhem as they rebounded in all directions before John Obi Mikel finally hacked away off the line.

In the midst of the storm, Daniel Ayala went down after a clash of heads and had to be taken from the field on a stretcher. Lets hope he is OK. We are now fast running out of defenders.

The defence reshufled across, Howson dropping back to right back and Adam Clayton coming on to form a forward line of defence. It worked well with Fry, Flint and Shotton playing out of their skins and dominating the aerial battles. Clayton acted as a springboard for attacks as Boro started to hit back on the break.

Britt, who had run Hull ragged, should have been rewarded with a second goal but got his radar settings hopelessly wrong when passing to an imaginary team mate instead of shooting past Marshall. Fletcher, who was never in a position to receive Britt's pass went close himself to adding a second. The forward had earlier blasted over from close range but earned his early ovation when subbed after a great display of forward play.

With Downing on (for the impressive and inventive Besic) and Tav (for Fletcher) Boro were threatening. Yet Hull had several big opportunities, a penalty shout and then that last gasp free kick when somehow Randolph got his finger tips to tip Grosicki's free kick onto the woodwork. It would have been a late, late heartbreaker from Hull.

For once Boro's fans went home elated. Hull failed to leapfrog us and their charge is ended. Our fans can look forward to it being a Good Friday against Stoke City. Let's not look any further forward just savour a home victory and enjoy the rarity of looking forward to another home game.

Boro 1-0 Hull City – scorer Britt

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