MX23RW : Thursday, January 17 11:47:26
Dec 22, 2018 at 3pm UK at ​Madejski Stadium (Reading, Berkshire)
Reading
0-1
Middlesbrough
FT(HT: 0-0)
Friend (77')

Result: Boro heap more misery on managerless Reading

Result: Boro heap more misery on managerless Reading
© Reuters
George Friend netted the winner.

Middlesbrough boosted their Championship play-off hopes with a hard-earned 1-0 victory at managerless Reading.

In a contest of few clear-cut openings, Boro skipper George Friend settled the issue with a smartly taken goal in the 77th minute.

Reading competed vigorously throughout but could not take advantage of the several half-chances that came their way.

Boro had not won in their past five matches in all competitions and lost 1-0 at home to League One Burton in their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.

Manager Tony Pulis made six changes to the starting XI that faced Burton for the trip to the Madejski Stadium.

Reading had not won in their past six outings, though had drawn four of them.

Caretaker manager Scott Marshall took charge for his third game, which was expected to be his last.

Reading were hoping to appoint Jose Gomes, the Portuguese coach of Primeira Liga club Rio Ave, as their new boss this weekend.

Boro made a sluggish start and were almost breached in the early exchanges.

Sam Baldock was able to wriggle clear inside the area but his fierce shot was kept out by goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

Boro were quick to recover and launched a series of attacks.

Centre-back Aden Flint headed wide from an Adam Clayton cross and Ryan Shotton fired wide from an angle.

Britt Assombalonga was then denied when home keeper Anssi Jaakkola got down well to block the Boro striker's close-range effort.

The visitors thought that they had gone in front, when Shotton nodded in following a free-kick, but the goal was quickly ruled out for offside.

Having held firm at the back, Reading improved going forward before the break.

But on-target attempts from Danny Loader and Omar Richards were both saved by Randolph.

Reading were the first to threaten after the interval through captain Leandro Bacuna.

He cut in cleverly from the left only to see his shot take a slight deflection, which allowed Randolph to gather easily.

Boro replied from a George Saville corner, which found the unmarked Flint at the far post.

Flint, however, was unable to muster any power with his header and Jaakkola also gathered comfortably.

Reading responded with a swift counter-attack, with Loader releasing Baldock.

But as the forward prepared to shoot, he was crowded out by the retreating defence.

Boro finally made the breakthrough with 13 minutes left, when substitute Paddy McNair weaved his way to the right-hand byline.

His cross was driven in low and hard, with Friend arriving at the right moment to slam home from six yards out.

Friend almost added a second in the dying stages but sliced a shot on to the home crossbar after a goalmouth scramble.

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Scott Marshall during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park on November 2, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds27166546281854
2Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd27155746281850
3Norwich CityNorwich27148549351450
4West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom27138655352047
5Middlesbrough271210530191146
6Derby CountyDerby2712783834443
7Bristol City2711883429541
8Birmingham CityBirmingham2791263930939
9Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest2791263931839
10Hull City27116103933639
11Queens Park RangersQPR27116103335-239
12Aston Villa2791174943638
13Swansea CitySwansea27107103632437
14Blackburn RoversBlackburn2791083541-637
15Stoke CityStoke2781183134-335
16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds2788113245-1332
17Brentford27710103937231
18Preston North EndPreston2779113944-530
19Wigan AthleticWigan2785142840-1229
20Millwall2777133343-1028
21Rotherham UnitedRotherham27510122542-1725
22Reading2758143041-1123
23Bolton WanderersBolton2757151840-2222
24Ipswich TownIpswich2739152246-2418

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