The first penalty box activity in a game which took a little while to take light came in City territory as Jordan Hugill set up Jonny Howson out wide, his low cross diverted out of harm’s way.

As they did in the fixture at the Riverside, City relied a lot on a long diagonal ball to Lukas Jutkiewicz for their main source of threat and it took strong defending, particularly from the central pairing of Dani Ayala and Danny Batth, to negate that.

Work off the ball helped Boro create space and with that came opportunity, Hugill failing to capitalise when set up by George Saville and Lewis Wing.

Boro thought they had found a way through, twice in a matter of seconds, but first Hugill then Dael Fry had shots blocked on the line through desperate, yet effective City defending.

The next time there was pressure on the City rearguard it was made to count as the home side were cut open with a flowing move.

With 37 minutes played Howson picked out a run down the line from Fry. A deep cross into the penalty area flew through (with aid of a dummy) to Lewis Wing who slid in at the back post to tuck home.

The referee, who incurred the wrath of the home support through most of the afternoon, had a big call to make early in the second half when Che Adams went to ground inside the box. Claims for a penalty were dismissed and the City striker carded for diving.

What that had done, however, was add fuel to the fire of the home side who had started the second half brightly, one that continued to press and one that nearly equalised when a close- range header from Harlee Dean came back off a post.

Boro stood firm in a tough game, one where strength and character were chief attributes needed.

When handball brought a free-kick a yard up from the edge of the Boro box danger signs were raised. The delivery, when it came, from Jutkiewicz, flew low and hard and was well saved by Darren Randolph.

Pressure was maintained on the Boro goal and eventually it told 12 minutes from time when Che Adams turned close to the edge of the D and swept a low shot beyond Randolph and into the bottom corner.

Joy was short lived for the Blues fans.

Just four minutes after their team drew level they watched as a beautifully-weighted ball through the middle from Wing picked out Britt Assombalonga who peeled away to take a position from where he would chip Lee Camp, stranded somewhere between the ball and the goalline.

The goal was scored in front of a healthy contingent of Boro fans who celebrated accordingly.

Scorers Wing 37, Adams 78, Assombalonga 82

City: Camp, Colin, Dean, Morrison (Capt.), Pedersen, Maghoma, G Gardner (C Gardner 46), Kieftenbeld (Vassell 79), Jota, Adams, Jutkiewicz. Subs: Trueman (gk); Harding, Dacres-Cogley, Mahoney, Solomon-Otabor.

Boro: Randolph, Howson, Fry, Ayala, Baath, Friend (Capt.), Clayton, Besic (Downing 69), Wing (McNair 86), Saville, Hugill (Assombalonga 69). Subs: Lonergan, Tavernier, van La Parra, Fletcher. Order of subs on 69: 1 Downing; 2 Assombalonga

Referee: Graham Scott. Oxfordshire

Yellow cards
City Kieftenbeld 29, persistent misconduct; Adams 54, diving
Boro Wing 55, foul

Attendance: 21,420 (1,325 Boro)