Match Preview & Podcast: Middlesbrough vs Bristol City

Jonny Bullock is back with another episode of the Boro Breakdown podcast, where he looks back on Boro’s win over Forest and defeat to Sheffield United and looks ahead to a crucial game against Bristol City.

Saturday’s opponents have been largely impressive under Lee Johnson this season, spending the majority of the campaign in and around the playoff places.

The Robins sit directly below Boro in the table and will leapfrog Tony Pulis’s side with a win, but a lack of consistency has hampered their chances of solidifying a place in the top six.

They’ve not strung back-to-back wins together since beating Manchester United in the cup and Nottingham Forest in the league.

Boro come into the came having slipped out of the top six following defeat to play-off rivals Sheffield United on Tuesday night.

Can Boro get back on track with a win? Or will ‘Typical Boro’ strike again?

Team news

Boro will be without captain Grant Leadbitter on Saturday after the midfielder was sent off for two bookings at Bramall Lane, so Adam Clayton is expected to start in his absence.

Patrick Bamford and Stewart Downing will be assessed ahead of the game, whilst Everton loanee Mo Besic is a doubt.

“We’ve got one or two with knocks that we’re hoping will train today, and we’ll see how they train and go from there,” Pulis told Boro’s website.

“Patrick’s got a little hamstring issue, Stewart’s had a little knock as well, so we’ll see where they are.”

As for the visitors, the only concern is club captain Bailey Wright, who will be assessed after picking up a thigh strain in training.

What the managers say

Jamie McAllister (Bristol City assistant):

We know it’s going to be a tough game at Middlesbrough who have changed their fortunes since Pulis came in.

“They are solid to beat but they lost on Tuesday night. With four games to go, six teams are competing for two places in the play-offs and we all have difficult games coming up.

“These are are a big three points at stake on Saturday and I am sure both teams will be giving it a right go.”

Tony Pulis:

“Everybody knows we’ve got good footballers here, but you can’t turn up and think football alone is going to in you games. It doesn’t happen like that in the Championship.

“The players have got to understand that they have to earn the right to play and to scrap through when things aren’t going well. That’s what gets you results.

“We have got to realise, individually and collectively, that irrespective of what you’ve done the previous week you’ve got to turn up for games on a Saturday a three o’clock and put a marker down.”

Match stats

  • Middlesbrough have lost their last five league matches against the Robins, last avoiding defeat in March 2012.
  • Bristol City have never lost against Middlesbrough at the Riverside in all competitions (W3 D3) with their last defeat coming at Ayresome Park in March 1995.
  • In fact, Bristol City are the only team Middlesbrough have played more than once at Riverside without ever winning against and one of just four overall (along with Plymouth Argyle, Sporting Lisbon and Stuttgart).
  • Tony Pulis last faced Bristol City in January 2016, winning an FA Cup third-round replay when he was manager of West Brom.
  • The Robins lost only one of their first 12 away matches in all competitions this season (W7 D4) – in their subsequent 12, they have won none, drawn five and lost seven.
  • Middlesbrough have won five of their last six league matches at the Riverside (L1), since a run of three games without a home victory and a goal (D1 L2).

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