Championship
MiddlesbroughMiddlesbrough2StokeStoke City1
Ashley Fletcher
Ashley Fletcher equalised for Middlesbrough with his fifth goal of the season

Middlesbrough fought back against Stoke City to earn a third straight home win and move six points clear of the Potters and the Championship relegation zone.

A dull match came to life in a vibrant second half, triggered by Sam Clucas' opening goal on the rebound for Stoke.

Boro struck back quickly through Ashley Fletcher's header from Jonny Howson's ball over the top, and 14 minutes later Lewis Wing lashed in powerfully from 25 yards to inflict a fourth defeat in six games on the visitors.

Stoke, who have lost five of their past six away matches, are two points from safety and will spend Christmas in the bottom three.

They were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty when Howson appeared to clip Clucas' leg with the score at 1-1 but were grateful to goalkeeper Jack Butland for keeping them in the contest.

The England international brilliantly kept out Daniel Ayala's second-half header, having also done well to save from Fletcher in the first half.

Boro, who were the division's lowest scorers before kick-off with 19 goals from 22 games, grew in confidence after the break.

Wing's powerfully driven low finish sparked joyous celebrations as the early-season gloom around The Riverside continued to clear and Jonathan Woodgate's side moved up to 18th in the table.

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate told BBC Tees: "It was two different halves. First half we were very disappointing - we lacked energy, drive, enthusiasm.

"Changing the shape for the second half, we were miles better. We kept their full-backs back and I thought we dominated the second half.

"We had five players on the pitch who were under 21 years old. We are a young team but with some very good senior players.

"These players have never stopped playing for me, even through tough defeats. I know these players will fight for me and I will fight for them."

Stoke boss Michael O'Neill told BBC Radio Stoke: "We had a lot of dominance, particularly in the first half, and we should have done better from that. We weren't as clinical as we could have been.

"We didn't show enough quality in terms of our balls into the box and create enough opportunities for the level of dominance that we had.

"In the second half we deservedly went ahead but to concede so soon afterwards and, ultimately, to concede again, was disappointing as both goals were preventable.

"We were denied a clear-cut penalty but it was a game that really, given where we were and the control we had, we should have won."

Line-ups

Middlesbrough

  • 42Pears
  • 16HowsonBooked at 43mins
  • 4Ayala
  • 6Fry
  • 29SpenceSubstituted forJohnsonat 78'minutes
  • 22SavilleBooked at 82mins
  • 8ClaytonSubstituted forWingat 58'minutes
  • 7Tavernier
  • 33Coulson
  • 11Fletcher
  • 36WalkerSubstituted forGestedeat 58'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Mejias
  • 14Gestede
  • 21Johnson
  • 25Wood
  • 26Wing
  • 35O'Neill
  • 37Liddle

Stoke

  • 1Butland
  • 14SmithBooked at 77mins
  • 6Batth
  • 5Lindsay
  • 3WardBooked at 21minsSubstituted forPowellat 68'minutes
  • 4Allen
  • 24CousinsBooked at 87mins
  • 22ClucasBooked at 59mins
  • 7InceSubstituted forDioufat 88'minutes
  • 19Gregory
  • 11McCleanSubstituted forVokesat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Vokes
  • 15Martins Indi
  • 16Davies
  • 18Diouf
  • 20Hogan
  • 25Powell
  • 37Collins
Referee:
Oliver Langford
Attendance:
18,270

Match Stats

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamStoke
Possession
Home41%
Away59%
Shots
Home7
Away12
Shots on Target
Home4
Away3
Corners
Home4
Away2
Fouls
Home15
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Middlesbrough 2, Stoke City 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 2, Stoke City 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Danny Batth (Stoke City).

  4. Post update

    Dael Fry (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Nick Powell (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lee Gregory.

  6. Post update

    Offside, Stoke City. Sam Clucas tries a through ball, but Sam Vokes is caught offside.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Sam Vokes (Stoke City).

  8. Post update

    George Saville (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Stoke City. Mame Biram Diouf replaces Tom Ince.

  10. Booking

    Jordan Cousins (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Cousins (Stoke City).

  12. Post update

    Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Danny Batth (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough).

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Joe Allen (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Nick Powell.

  16. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Danny Batth (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tommy Smith.

  17. Booking

    George Saville (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  18. Post update

    Tom Ince (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Post update

    Foul by George Saville (Middlesbrough).

  20. Post update

    Foul by Lee Gregory (Stoke City).

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