Northern Echo

IT turned into a nervous finale, but a game that Middlesbrough simply had to win ended with their promotion push back on track.

Wretched for the opening quarter-of-an-hour, and deservedly trailing to Isaac Mbenza’s ninth- minute free-kick, the Teessiders turned things around with their best passage of play for a number of weeks towards the end of the first half.

Duncan Watmore scored an excellent solo goal to level things, before the returning Ashley Fletcher fired Boro into the lead from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

So far, so good. However, just as Neil Warnock’s side looked to be coasting to victory, the controversial dismissal of Paddy McNair with nine minutes left threatened to turn the game against them.

Suddenly, Huddersfield were able to lay siege to the Middlesbrough goal, but while substitute Kieran Phillips thought he had claimed an equaliser with one minute left, his effort rebounded to safety off the inside of the post.

Boro held on to claim their first home victory since mid-December and end a five-game winless run that was threatening to derail their promotion ambitions. It wasn’t the most convincing of successes, but on Pancake Day, they did not fall flat.


Middlesbrough hung on despite Paddy McNair's late red card as they revived their faltering Championship play-off bid by coming from behind to beat struggling Huddersfield.

Isaac Mbenza whipped home a brilliant 25-yard free-kick to give the Terriers the lead but Duncan Watmore beat two defenders to curl in an equally exquisite equaliser.

Highlights from the 2-1 win against Huddersfield Town

Ashley Fletcher completed the first-half turnaround, squeezing a penalty underneath Ryan Schofield after Lewis O'Brien had caught Boro full-back Darnell Fisher in the box.

McNair's harsh dismissal for a tackle on Juninho Bacuna nine minutes from time sparked a late rally from the visitors and Kieran Phillips almost salvaged a point, hitting the post from 12 yards.

Gazette/Teesside Live

There was a sigh of relief at full-time at the Riverside as Middlesbrough finally ended their five-match winless run.

Despite the best efforts of the referee, ten-man Boro clung on to beat Huddersfield 2-1 thanks to goals from Duncan Watmore and Ashley Fletcher.

But the game is somewhat overshadowed by the straight red card of Paddy McNair which very nearly cost Boro a very important three points.

Thankfully, justice prevailed as they saw the result out...

...With little luck or form then, what they needed more than anything was a piece of individual brilliance - and that's exactly what they got from Watmore.

Receiving the ball on the left byline, he cut in, beating left-back Lewis O'Brien before curling with his weaker left foot into the far corner beyond Ryan Schofield. A wonderful solo goal exactly what Boro needed at an opportune time too.

The Sun

MIDDLESBROUGH are back in the play-off hunt after coming from behind and hanging on with ten men against Huddersfield.

Isaac Mbenza’s stunning free-kick broke the deadlock, but a moment of magic from Duncan Watmore and Ashley Fletcher’s penalty Boro to within three points of the top six.

They were forced to do it the hard way after Paddy McNair was sent-off with ten to go but held on to ensure Carlos Corberan’s team remain winless since December 29.

Mbenza superbly curled home a free-kick to give his side a deserved lead.

Watmore watched agonisingly on as no-one was able to tap home after he toe poked the ball through the keeper's legs and across the open goal from the right.

Passing was the last thing on his mind when he next picked up the ball out on the right as he majestically skipped inside past Lewis O’Brien and Sarr on to his left foot to curl it low round Ryan Schofield inside the far post.

Boro were asking all the questions now and took the lead before the break courtesy of Fletcher after Darnell Fisher had been chopped down.