MX23RW : Thursday, April 15 10:37:21| >> :600:405504:405504:
Aug 9, 2014 at 3pm UK at Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough
2-0
BirminghamBirmingham City
Ayala (33'), Kike (66')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Birmingham City

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Birmingham at the Riverside Stadium as both teams get their new campaigns underway.

Having just survived by the skin of their teeth last season, Birmingham will begin their 2014-15 Championship campaign against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Blues only remained in the second tier by virtue of a superior goal difference to Doncaster Rovers, with both clubs finishing on 44 points after Paul Caddis's dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser against Bolton Wanderers on the final day.

Manager Lee Clark will be desperate to avoid such a close call again this time around, and a victory over Boro this weekend would give his side a solid platform to build on for the season.

Clark has not had much money to play with in the transfer window, but has still managed to strengthen his squad with 10 new additions, including striker Clayton Donaldson.

However, the squad suffered a blow earlier this week as Tom Adeyemi completed his move to Cardiff City having handed in a transfer request.

Pre-season has yielded promising signs for the Midlands outfit, with five wins from their five outings banishing some of the memories of the six-match winless streak at the end of last season.

Friendlies can only tell you so much, however, and Saturday's match at the Riverside will go some way to informing us whether Birmingham are set for another relegation battle this time around.

Boro's ambitions are a little loftier than that this season, with Aitor Karanka's side eyeing a playoff charge having settled for mid-table mediocrity last term.

Despite finishing down in 12th position in 2013-14, Boro were just eight points off a place in the top six - a gap that they will be confident of closing with a full season under Karanka.

However, they have lost some key players during the summer, with Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz making the step up to the Premier League with Swansea City and Burnley respectively.

Three players have arrived from Spain in an attempt to strengthen the squad, while James Husband has also joined from Doncaster.

Mustapha Carayol remains injured and unavailable for Saturday's match, while there are also questions over the fitness of Kenneth Omeruo, who rejoined on loan from Chelsea earlier this week.

Recent form

Middlesbrough: LWWWWL

Birmingham: DWWWWW

Possible starting lineups

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Husband, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Adomah, Leadbitter, Whitehead, Kike; Reach; Tomlin

Birmingham: Randolph; Eardley, Grounds, Packwood, Robinson; Gleeson, Lee, Reilly, Shinnie; Novak, Donaldson

Sports Mole says: 1-1


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Neil Danns of Bolton Wanderers tackles Tom Adeyemi of Birmingham City during the Sky Bet Championship match on May 3, 2014
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12Stoke CityStoke411413144546-155
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17Blackburn RoversBlackburn411211185247547
18Birmingham CityBirmingham411112183150-1945
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield411111194362-1944
20Derby CountyDerby411110203046-1643
21Coventry CityCoventry401012183656-2042
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24Wycombe WanderersWycombe4189243064-3433

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