Coventry City 1-2 Middlesbrough: Match verdict as Hall & Saville secure hard-fought win
Tuesday, 2nd Mar 2021 21:01 by Phil Spencer
A late push saw Middlesbrough secure a 2-1 victory over Coventry City at St Andrews.
That result ends a run of just two victories in nine games and will certainly go a long way to keeping the club in the hunt for the play-offs.
Here's the action as it unfolded.
Neil Warnock made three changes from the weekend's 1-1 draw with Cardiff City.
Djed Spence, Neeskens Kebano and Chuba Akpom all came into the side in place of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Duncan Watmore and Britt Assombalonga who all dropped to the bench.
There was also a spot on the bench for Yannick Bolasie who returned to the first team fold after injury.
It was the hosts who had the first threatening moment as a cross from the right flank was floated towards Sam McCallum in the box who failed to get a clean contact on the ball.
Coventry dominated the opening 10 minutes and got their reward when a long throw into the box was headed home by Maxime Biamou at the back post.
Middlesbrough had their chance in the first period too though, with Chuba Akpom heading Marcus Tavernier's corner across the face of goal before Neeskens Kebano's low effort was blocked.
The Teessiders got their reward late in the half when a whipped free-kick found the head of Grant Hall who headed home to draw the game level.
Half-Time: Coventry City 1-1 Middlesbrough
The second period got off to a pretty dire start with neither side really causing much in the way of chances in the opening 15 minutes.
Marcus Tavernier did have a half chance when his corner was cleared back to him only to see he follow-up shot charged down by the defenders.
Middlesbrough were holding onto the ball a little bit better a looked stronger in possession but that didn't really translate into chances created.
Tavernier then created another half-chance as a whipped free-kick nearly found Kebano however the ball was cleared to safety.
Neil Warnock made a handful of changes in the second half in the hope of replicating the improved performance that we saw against Cardiff City at the weekend and thankfully that gamble paid off.
Marvin Johnson was introduced and was really lively down the flank while George Saville was the man who put Middlesbrough in the lead after converting from close range after a cross from Jonny Howson.
Yannick Bolasie missed a glorious late chance but Middlesbrough were able to see out the game for a valuable three points.
Full-Time: Coventry City 1-2 Middlesbrough
Phil Spencer's verdict
What a valuable victory that was for Middlesbrough.
The first half was pretty dire and I'm sure many fans were fearing the worst with the way that Coventry City came out of the blocks and gave the hosts the lead.
Middlesbrough didn't look much like getting back into the game with creativity really lacking in the first period, however Grant Hall's late goal in the first half seemed to inspire a bit of confidence.
Barring Coventry's goal, Neil Warnock's side looked really solid in defence with Dael Fry and Grant Hall looking like proper powerhouses in defence - something that was really encouraging to see.
At half-time Middlesbrough certainly didn't look deserving of anything more than a point, but the second period was a marked improvement.
For the second game in a row it was the substitutes who made all the difference with Marvin Johnson and George Saville in particular changing the tempo of the game and putting Coventry under the cosh.
Saville's late goal was richly deserved for Middlesbrough and while it won't go down as a classic performance, the hope is that this three points can draw a line under the recent inconsistent patch and see the club challenge for the top six positions after all.
There's plenty of work to do, but the hope is that this win can act as a catalyst for the weeks to come.
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