Roberts Fires Boro Within Touching Distance Of Safety

Northern Echo

Patrick Roberts, a two-time title winner in Scotland with Celtic, has struggled to live up to his billing since joining on loan from Manchester City in January. Indeed, such was the inconsistent nature of his performances, he didn’t even start the two games prior to last night’s trip to Reading.

He was back in the starting side at the Madejski Stadium though, and when his temporary employers needed him most, he delivered a performance that could go a long way to keeping Boro in the Championship.

His pinpoint first-half cross was influential enough, setting up Ashley Fletcher for the glanced header that cancelled out Liam Moore’s opener for the Royals. But it was his intervention with eight minutes left, turning one point into three, that really transformed the complexion of Boro’s position with two games remaining.

Six minutes after wasting what to that point had been the best opportunity of the game with a tame effort that was directed straight at the Reading goalkeeper, Roberts swept home a neat first-time finish to convert Marvin Johnson’s cut-back from the left.

It was the winger’s first goal in a Middlesbrough shirt, sparking jubilant celebrations from the visiting dug-out that echoed around an empty Madejski. The job is not quite done yet, but from a position of considerable danger, Boro can breathe much easier as they had into their final two games.

Warnock’s decision to recall Roberts proved a masterstroke, and the veteran boss’ other big calls also proved justified. Aynsley Pears was solid in goal after being recalled to replace Dejan Stojanovic, while Anfernee Dijksteel, handed a first start since November to replace the injured Ryan Shotton, who has played his final game for the club, was also strong and resolute.

Like Roberts, Marcus Tavernier returned to the starting side to provide some welcome energy and creativity. Neil Warnock might say he does not know what some of his players are going to do on the pitch, but if they turn in two more performances like this, he will not be complaining.

Warnock Hails Engine Room Heroes

Teesside Live

Neil Warnock had nothing but praise for the four faces he added to the mix for the 2-1 win that took Boro to the 50 point mark and within a whisker of safety.

But the veteran boss hailed the impact of the engine-room heroes at the heart of a spirited show.

Warnock singled out midfield duo George Saville and Jonny Howson after superlative displays.

"George was excellent," he said. "He worked his socks off, put his body on the line and took a few knocks.

"He dug deep and had a bit of a threat too and his little dummy was important for the goal.

"I thought he was very disciplined - although he did one dribble when I would have killed him if they had scored," he said of one attempted nutmeg 25 yards out that led to a Reading shot that flew wide.

"That's Saville's best game since I came he and yes, he deserves praise. And you might not notice him as much but I thought Jonny Howson was just magnificent.

"I'd have given him 10 out of 10. He was incredible for us in midfield. What a shift! I only counted one mistake in the first half tonight. Only one. He was superb, really.

"I thought he was cool and collected, cutting balls out, closing down and winning headers he had no right to win. He epitomised everything about us in that game."

The Key Qualities Warnock Has Given Boro

Hartlepool Mail

That should just about do it.

Ever since his appointment at Middlesbrough three weeks ago, Neil Warnock has spoken about the need for leaders, battlers and players committed to the cause.

It hasn’t been a complete transformation but improvements have been made to take Boro to the brink of Championship survival. Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at Reading was evidence of that.

This was only the second time the Teessiders have come from behind to win this season, and there have been numerous occasions when heads have appeared to drop after falling behind.

Yet the Teessiders stood up and were counted at the Madejski Stadium, even after Royals defender Liam Moore opened the scoring on 33 minutes.

Yes it could have been different if John Swift’s effort had made it 2-0 rather than rebounding off the post, yet Boro dug their heels in and were good value for the win.

Relief And Pride At Boro's Spirited Win

Teesside Live

Neil Warnock mopped his brow and spoke of his relief and pride after Middlesbrough hit from behind to claim three precious points at Reading.

The home side nicked the opener from a corner but Ashley Fletcher levelled just before the break and Patrick Roberts sealed a 2-1 win late on.

That took Boro to the 50 points mark in a huge step toward Championship safety.

"My main feeling is relief," said Warnock. "Relief and pride.

"It's been hard work but that was a massive three points, especially with Cardiff coming up on Saturday. I know them, they are really strong.

So it was important tonight to get something tonight and to get three points, well I really thought we deserved them.

"Even when we went a goal down I said to Blackie (Kevin Blackwell) this could be the first time we come from behind tonight.

"We were playing well. We were working hard. I just felt it was there today."