There was praise from all quarters after Sunday's 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers. Here's how the media saw it...
Few savour an away day quite like Tony Pulis, but if there was a familiar formula to Middlesbrough’s latest profitable road trip, victory still had an unlikely architect.
Only leaders Norwich have claimed more points on their travels while all of Middlesbrough’s league wins in 2019 have come away from the Riverside Stadium and featured a Britt Assombalonga goal.
Yet if he was a regular scorer in a typical result, Middlesbrough’s forgotten man was the catalyst. Ashley Fletcher is a £6 million signing who had only made four previous league starts and just one for Pulis.
If he only owed his place to defensive absentees, with Pulis forced to pick a more attacking team because centre-backs Aden Flint and Daniel Ayala were injured and suspended respectively, the forward justified his selection with his speed, skill and directness.
“He was smashing,” said Pulis, after Fletcher’s pace decided the game.
Tony Pulis has acknowledged how well new-look front-line Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher performed to help Middlesbrough climb back up to fifth in the Championship, even though he insisted he could mix things up again next weekend.
Assombalonga was back in a Championship starting line-up for the first time since Boxing Day and vindicated the manager’s decision by scoring the winning header against Blackburn Rovers.
Team-mate Fletcher, starting for only the second time in the league under Pulis’ management, had a key role to play in that decisive goal and the pair were otherwise full of attacking intent and energy, without adding to the lead.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis wants his side to be more ruthless, but was pleased with the response to a defensive reshuffle in their win against 10-man Blackburn Rovers.
Boro kept their first clean sheet of 2019 in the absence of the injured Aden Flint and suspended Daniel Ayala, while fellow defender George Friend was forced off just after the hour mark.
Britt Assombalonga’s 19th-minute close-range header – his third goal in the last four games – settled yesterday’s clash with Rovers, who had Derrick Williams dismissed on the stroke of half-time.
John Mikel Obi was part of Middlesbrough squad that grabbed a valuable away win at Blackburn Rovers yesterday.
The former Tianjin Teda midfielder who made his fourth start out of the five he has clocked for the English Championship side played all 90 minutes in the encounter at Ewood Park.
Although Britt Assombalonga's 19th minute header made the difference for Boro to earn all three points, Mikel, no doubt has stamped his authority in the middle of the team to earn the respect of Manager Tony Pulis.