After being relegated from the Premiership last season, finishing 19th, Middlesbrough were amongst the favourites for automatic promotion this term however after sacking Gareth Southgate, when the club was one point off the top of the league and appointing Gordon Strachan as his replacement Middlesbrough have slipped down to their current position of 8th in the Championship, but are only two points off the play-offs after an up-turn in form in recent weeks. Middlesbrough have experienced some success in recent times, in the 2004-2005 season they qualified for the U.E.F.A cup, or as it is now known, the Europa League, finishing 7th in the Premier League, ‘Boro’, under former England manager Steve McLaren, then managed to reach the final of the competition but were comfortably beaten 4-0 by Spanish outfit Sevilla. Since Gordon Strachan’s arrival the club has been transformed with Strachan bringing in a number of Scottish players including Chris Killen and Barry Robson, in the recent January transfer window. It is expected that only one player that was in the Middlesbrough squad for the reverse fixture at London Road will be in the starting 11 tomorrow. During this transfer window ‘Boro’ also lost a top talent in Adam Johnson, on deadline day, to Manchester City, the left winger had been a catalyst in the clubs campaign.
The Form Book:
Middlesbrough go into this game on a five game unbeaten streak, their latest win coming against a reinvigorated Barnsley side. The home side have lost 6 league games at their ground, The Riverside, this season though and have picked up more points on their travels than home games. The club are the fourth lowest home scorers in the League this season, with only 14 goals.
‘The Posh’ are still searching for an elusive away victory after being beaten 2-0 by Cardiff during the week. After picking up just 4 points on the road this campaign and with Peterborough only managing to take 4 points from the last 24 available Gannon will see his side go into this game as clear under-dogs.
Last Time Out:
The clubs met at London Road on 28th November last year, and fought out a 2-2 draw. The game was Mark Cooper’s first chance to try to impress the home crowd. Dave Kitson scored both for the home side, whilst Boyd and a late Shaun Batt wonder goal meant Posh came back from behind twice to grab a hard earned point.
Middlesbrough: Barry Robson – The Celtic midfielder is a real presence in the midfield, he also will look to get forward regularly and is no stranger to scoring. His record at former club Dundee United is very impressive scoring 32 goals in 145 appearances. He then moved to Celtic where he made 42 appearances for ‘The Hoops’, a very good free-kick taker and a decent passer of the football it will be vital that Posh stop the supply to the creative midfielder.
Peterborough: Craig Mackail-Smith – The striker has been out of form of late and will be looking to build on his goal tally of 7 in the League. Mackail-Smith bases his game on his work-rate which has made him a crowd favourite at London Road, this work-rate is likely to be needed by Posh as Middlesbrough will look to retain possession for large period’s in-front of an expectant home-crowd. The former Dagenham striker was subbed in mid-week and will be looking to impress new manager Jim Gannon, to make sure he maintains his regular starting place.
Middlesbrough: Gary O’Neil looks unlikely to be fit, as he tries to recover from a groin injury. Chris Killen is also a doubt after picking up a knock in Middlesbrough’s win over Barnsley in mid-week. Julio Arca, Chris Riggott, Rhys Williams and Jeremie Aliadiere all resumed light-training this week but will not start at the week-end. Seb Hines and Matthew Bates have long-term injuries and therefore are unavailable.
Peterborough: Gabriel Zakuani’s troublesome groin leaves him side-lined. But Charlie Lee is expected to return to the starting line-up as he overcame the dead-leg he sustained against QPR.
Match Odds (William Hill):
Middlesbrough – 8/15 Draw – 13/5 Peterborough – 4/1
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