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Matchday

Boro closed the gap on the play-off pack after winning at fifth placed Reading.

Neil Warnock’s side made it back to back wins for the first time since December to keep the pace with the group of teams hunting down a top six spot.

Ashley Fletcher scored his second in as many games and Marc Bola scored an absolute screamer as two first half goals proved enough to secure a deserved victory in Berkshire. 

Warnock was able to welcome Dael Fry back to his starting line-up and the returning defender added an extra presence to the side.

The boss had asked to more of him in front of goal, and he was instrumental in the opening goal. Paddy McNair picked up him out with a free-kick from our wide and Fry headed into the path of the waiting Fletcher; who tapped home his second in as many games.

Boro’s tenacity gave Reading little, although Ovie Ejaria did send a shot wide when the visitors found a little space.

It was 2-0 on the half hour; though, when Bola scored with a rocket. Duncan Watmore did well in the build-up before Sam Morsy played a part in teeing up Bola to lash the ball home from 18 yards.

Boro were looking strong and after Darnell Fisher sent one wide, following good work by Neeskens Kebano, Jonny Howson played in McNair, who was denied by Rafael Cabral.

Watmore was also crowded out after being released by Kebano while Andy Yiadom went close for the home side amid some good defending from Boro.

Watmore had worked his socks off and had taken a battering and bruising for his efforts before making way for Marvin Johnson midway through the second half.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and George Saville were also given introductions as the game entered the final 15 minutes. 

And it was substitute Johnson who teed up Fletcher with a late opportunity to make it 3-0, but Cabral was equal to the strike.