The national media were left purring by Boro's Carabao Cup performance last night, with match-winning midfielder Lewis Wing singled out for particular praise.
Wing’s cracker has Boro flying into last eight
Less than 18 months ago Lewis Wing combined playing for the Northern League side Shildon with working on a factory production line but on Wednesday night the attacking midfielder’s first goal in a Middlesbrough shirt propelled Tony Pulis’s side into the quarter-finals.
Quite apart from scoring, Wing’s sharp passing, clever link play and streetwise interceptions lent a certain brio to a contest which Palace did little to illuminate until far too late. Tellingly Dimi Konstantopoulos, the home goalkeeper, did not make a single significant save until he repelled Andros Townsend’s 88th-minute shot.
It was not only the first goal he has scored for Boro since stepping up from non-League Seaham Red Star and, later, Shildon – residents of the ninth tier of football’s pyramid – but a fabulous one too. After collecting the ball from Tavernier, Wing evaded Vicente Guaita’s reach courtesy of a sublime right-foot shot struck from around 25 yards and which arrowed into the top corner.
Hodgson looked startled but he could not argue that Boro deserved to be ahead after their overall dominance had seen Palace’s attacking menace restricted to odd moments of long range, counterattacking speculation. Despite a pronounced second-half improvement Palace struggled to deconstruct the meanest defence in England’s second tier.
Wing strikes as Pulis outwits former club
Middlesbrough do not beat other teams as much as clog up their arteries. They may lack adventure but in compensation they offer bloody-minded resilience, a quality that earned them their tenth clean sheet in all competitions this season, grinding Crystal Palace into submission and dragging themselves into the quarter-finals.
No English league team have conceded fewer goals this season and although that statistic is not always mirrored by electricity in attack, Middlesbrough warranted their victory, inspired by Lewis Wing’s fine goal, although the scoreline remained narrow and a small crowd at the Riverside Stadium could not wallow in it.
Some would call that the Tony Pulis way. No English team have conceded few goals than Middlesbrough this season, and although that statistic has now always been mirrored by electricity in attack, they warranted their half-time advantage. Palace's approach was laborious, reflective of a team who have not won a league match since mid-September, but a compliment, too, to their opponents.
Wing graduates from ninth tier to sink Palace
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis last night hailed a “wonder goal” from Lewis Wing in a Carabao Cup victory that was made even sweeter when they were drawn against League One Burton Albion in the quarter finals.
Boro moved closer to a Wembley appearance thanks to Wing, a midfielder who was playing in the ninth tier of English football last year.
Signed from Northern League club Shildon, Wing powered in a 25-yard shot to edge Middlesbrough past Premier League Crystal Palace and into the last eight of the competition that nobody seems to want to win.
It was his first-ever strike for Middlesbrough but Wing, 23, is a player who knows the route to goal after amassing 37 in one season at Shildon, who employed him as a striker.
Middlesbrough use him in a deeper role and his progress has prompted demands from some fans for manager Tony Pulis to give him a regular place in their Championship line-up.
Several other fringe players at the Riverside will have also impressed Pulis by the way they controlled this tie against Palace players who never threatened to claim a quarter-final spot.