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Stoke0Middlesbrough2

Stoke City 0-2 Middlesbrough: Neil Warnock starts Boro reign with win

Ashley Fletcher scores for Middlesbrough
Ashley Fletcher's first goal since early February gave Middlesbrough the lead at Stoke

New boss Neil Warnock guided Middlesbrough to a valuable 2-0 win over Stoke City in his first game in charge of the Championship strugglers.

Boro, who replaced Jonathan Woodgate with the veteran in midweek, enjoyed only their second win in 13 games, dragging their opponents into the relegation dogfight in the process.

Ashley Fletcher headed Boro in front just before the half-hour, glancing in Patrick Roberts' swinging free-kick from the right.

James McClean had already seen his volley well saved by Dejan Stojanovic, and passed up two other big chances for Stoke when he fired straight at the keeper and then headed against the post.

The home side were made to pay for those misses, as Teessiders substitute Marcus Tavernier, with practically his first touches, received the ball on the right, spun and cut inside before bending his shot beyond Jack Butland for the crucial second.

Nick Powell's frustrated shunt into Britt Assombalonga, lunge on Lewis Wing and then a third nibble saw him dismissed by referee Matt Donohue for two bookings - a sour end to a disappointing day for the Potters.

Michael O'Neill's Stoke have an impressive home record, with just one defeat in nine before today, but never really got into their groove on home turf, despite McClean's efforts and the introduction of firepower such as Sam Vokes and Tom Ince off the bench.

Defeat puts them just a point above the drop zone, with third-from-bottom Huddersfield poised to leapfrog them if they beat Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Boro climb a place above the Potters to 19th, with a two-point buffer between them and the bottom three.

Warnock has immediate impact on confident Boro

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock was making his first appearance back in the dugout since leaving Cardiff in November

Warnock and trusty assistant Kevin Blackwell had barely a couple of training sessions with their new players before this game but from this evidence it had been time well spent.

Under predecessor Woodgate, Boro played attractive, passing football, while under Tony Pulis before that it was physical and direct. Warnock's methods were best described as a hybrid of the two.

The formation, switched to a 4-4-2 for large parts, gave Boro balance with wingers providing delivery to two forwards - something craved by Boro fans after several seasons of one central striker.

It was a switch that seemed to energise Fletcher, who pulled defenders about with movement, seized countless possession on the break and added a first goal since early February.

As for 71-year-old Warnock, he was vocal from his touchline position - occasionally provoking the attentions of the fourth official - but mostly watched intently with his hands clasped behind his back.

Just a clap of the hands greeted each goal, while at the final whistle there were no wild celebrations. This is just the beginning of the job to avoid the drop.

Post-match reaction

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill told BBC Radio Stoke:

"We allowed ourselves in the first 20 minutes of the game to be bullied; we didn't deal with the physical threat.

"They had the wind with them in that first half, so we had to deal with the elements and a lot of direct football, and we gave away a lot of cheap free-kicks.

"The first 10, 15 minutes, there were about 10 balls come straight into our box and we spoke about that beforehand.

"We were behind in the game, came out, had countless chances to equalise, conceded a poor goal and were left chasing the game. Had we equalised at 1-0 down I think we would have won the game."

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock told BBC Tees:

"I couldn't have asked any more. The lads have worked hard for three days and they've been long sessions so they've had to digest quite a lot of what I want them to do.

"I think you could see today they knew what they were doing and how I wanted them to go about it and they were super, really - it's a tough place to come and they've got some good players and we nullified a lot of their strength, and used our strength.

"The two strikers were magnificent today, the amount of work Britt [Assombalonga] and [Ashley] Fletcher put in, [Patrick] Roberts back for an hour has given us a little lift, there were a lot of plusses. It's a happy drive home."

"I don't plan ahead now, we've just got to try to get the best out of it we can here. It's seven difficult games and every one is a challenge.

"The lads have shown what they can do today and it's about standards. It's not just what they can do, it's a little bit more.

"The way they kept their goal intact, diving in, that is the kind of thing I enjoy."

Line-ups

Stoke

  • 1Butland
  • 14Smith
  • 6Batth
  • 12Chester
  • 15Martins IndiSubstituted forVokesat 59'minutes
  • 33SørensenSubstituted forInceat 41'minutes
  • 34ThompsonSubstituted forCousinsat 59'minutes
  • 11McClean
  • 25PowellBooked at 89mins
  • 22Clucas
  • 26CampbellSubstituted forGregoryat 79'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Ward
  • 7Ince
  • 9Vokes
  • 16Davies
  • 19Gregory
  • 20Oakley-Boothe
  • 24Cousins
  • 35Tymon
  • 37Collins

Middlesbrough

  • 30Stojanovic
  • 29Spence
  • 6Fry
  • 3Friend
  • 21Johnson
  • 17McNairSubstituted forWingat 63'minutesBooked at 83mins
  • 16Howson
  • 22SavilleSubstituted forShottonat 81'minutes
  • 19RobertsSubstituted forTavernierat 61'minutes
  • 11Fletcher
  • 9Assombalonga

Substitutes

  • 5Shotton
  • 7Tavernier
  • 8Clayton
  • 15Morrison
  • 18Moukoudi
  • 20Nmecha
  • 25Wood
  • 26Wing
  • 42Pears
Referee:
Matt Donohue

Match Stats

Home TeamStokeAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home69%
Away31%
Shots
Home22
Away8
Shots on Target
Home6
Away3
Corners
Home7
Away7
Fouls
Home16
Away16

Live Text

Match ends, Stoke City 0, Middlesbrough 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Stoke City 0, Middlesbrough 2.

Attempt missed. Tom Ince (Stoke City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Dael Fry.

Attempt blocked. Tom Ince (Stoke City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James McClean.

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

Foul by Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough).

Attempt blocked. Sam Vokes (Stoke City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tom Ince.

Dismissal

Second yellow card to Nick Powell (Stoke City) for a bad foul.

Foul by Nick Powell (Stoke City).

Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Booking

Nick Powell (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Nick Powell (Stoke City).

Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Nick Powell (Stoke City).

Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Tommy Smith (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough).

Attempt missed. Lee Gregory (Stoke City) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Nick Powell.

Booking

Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Nick Powell (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough).

Foul by James Chester (Stoke City).

Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Ryan Shotton replaces George Saville.

Substitution

Substitution, Stoke City. Lee Gregory replaces Tyrese Campbell.

Jordan Cousins (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough).

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Nick Powell.

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by James Chester.

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by James McClean.

Nick Powell (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough).

Foul by Nick Powell (Stoke City).

Djed Spence (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Marcus Tavernier tries a through ball, but Britt Assombalonga is caught offside.

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

Foul by Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough).

Attempt saved. Nick Powell (Stoke City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sam Vokes.

Tommy Smith (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leeds39228959322774
2West Brom391914664382671
3Brentford391991167333466
4Fulham391810115243964
5Nottm Forest381613949391061
6Cardiff39151595751660
7Preston39169145249357
8Derby391512125452257
9Blackburn391511135548756
10Swansea391414114946356
11Millwall391316104643355
12Bristol City381510135256-455
13QPR39148175864-650
14Reading391310164845349
15Sheff Wed381310154750-349
16Birmingham391213145160-949
17Wigan391211164250-847
18Charlton39129184654-845
19Middlesbrough391014153950-1144
20Stoke39127205058-843
21Hull39119195267-1542
22Huddersfield38119184560-1542
23Luton39116224572-2739
24Barnsley39911194362-1938
View full Championship table

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