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Match Reports


2 April 2018

Match Reports


2 April 2018

Britt Assombalonga's 90th minute equaliser meant heartbreak for the Brewers just as they looked to be ending their winless run on home soil at the sixteenth attempt.

The Middlesbrough substitute headed home from close range after Adama Traore's ball into the box had been helped onto the crossbar by Jack Harrison with Assombalonga in the right place to gleefully nod in and deny Albion a precious win after Marvin Sordell had put the Brewers ahead as early as the sixth minute.

Sordell finished well from Lloyd Dyer's cross and it looked like it was going to be enough as Albion put bodies on the line and frustrated their promotion chasing visitors for large parts of the game.

The Brewers side showed three changes from Good Friday's defeat at Cardiff City. Out went Tom Flanagan and the midfield pair of Luke Murphy and Jamie Allen with Damien McCrory returning at left back and Hope Akpan and Jacob Davenport taking over the midfield roles as Albion stuck to the 4-4-1-1 formation that got plenty out of Liam Boyce in an attacking role in South Wales.

Middlesbrough quickly began to look for the explosive pace of Adama Traore down their right hand side and an early burst had the Brewers back line on the retreat although his final delivery lacked the quality to seriously test the men in yellow, Marvin Sordell on the edge of the box eventually clearing the lines.

Despite the bright start from the visitors it was Albion who struck first in only the sixth minute. The Brewers had been looking to find their own pacy outlet on the wing, Lloyd Dyer and he worked room for an excellent cross that was clinically despatched first time on his left foot by SORDELL, his first goal since netting the winner at Millwall back in November.

Middlesbrough dug in to try and find a quick response and it took an outstanding tackle from Tom Naylor to prevent Patrick Bamford equalising. As the Albion defence switched off for a second the talented forward got goalside of the defence to latch on to a through ball from Muhamed Besic before Naylor got back to deny him.

Dyer was orchestrating things again for Albion on seventeen minutes with another teasing cross that Ben Gibson reached just in time to deny Liam Boyce the chance to poach his first goal on home soil.

Albion had something of a let off when Traore broke once more and having been brought down by Davenport referee David Coote opted to play advantage with the visitors on the breakaway and the move finished with Stewart Downing, on his trusty left foot, sliding a shot across goal and wide of the target.

Middlesbrough were struggling to penetrate the Brewers back line and on 36 minutes Tony Pulis, in his frustration, opted to make a change. Off came a clearly unhappy Jonny Howson and his replacement was Britt Assombalonga who had scored twice on each of his last two appearances against the Brewers. The striker was quickly into the action in a goalmouth scramble on 38 minutes but Albion hung in there to clear their lines as Traore fouled Sordell in his attempts to clear the danger.

With a strike partner to search for Bamford almost cut Albion's defence open on 42 minutes with a run into the channel before delivering a low cross towards Assombalonga that was cut out by McFadzean standing his ground inside the six yard box.

Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Middlesbrough

Boro started with a real intent about their work at the start of the second half and they had an early chance to capitalise on it when Bywater handled outside his area. A low through ball seemed to be heading harmlessly out for a goal kick but the Albion keeper grabbed the ball and proceeded to slide out of the area on the greasy surface still clutching the ball. Referee Coote punished him with a yellow card and fortunately for Albion Traore's free kick failed to inflict any further damage.

Whilst Boro continued to look dangerous going forwards Albion were keen to get challenges in and when Boyce got the chance to run into space after some good battling in midfield had won possession the Irishman set himself up for a shot which went wide from 25 yards out.

Traore's snap shot on 63 minutes which he fired off his left foot never seriously threatened Bywater's goal and within a minute Albion were close to a second when Boyce's header from a Sordell corner.

The Boro winger, the most fouled players in the Championship this season, was having more and more influence on the game as the visitors sought him out on the right and his trickery proved too much for McCrory on 67 minutes as he picked up a yellow card after bringing him down in full flight towards the penalty area.

Middlesbrough took off Downing with a quarter of an hour remaining to replace him with Jack Harrison but it was Besic who tested Bywater with a low shot that crept through a ruck of bodies in the box before ending up in the grateful arms of the Burton keeper.

Murphy made his entrance shortly afterwards as Akpan was withdrawn from the fray as the play was getting increasingly stretched.

Albion went close when Bent's shot was blocked by Daniel Ayala inside the box and as Boro broke forwards it was Traore bursting through and escaping challenges from both Davenport and Naylor before Assombalonga took over and twisted and turned before firing over the bar from six yards out. Naylor's rather wild attempt to stop the winger in his tracks earned him a yellow card.

Assombalonga's equaliser, with the clock on ninety minutes was like a dagger through the heart of Albion who could still have won it in stoppage time through Bent's late shot but of all the defeats in the current winless run this has to be the hardest to take having come so close.

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