Championship
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Middlesbrough 1-1 Cardiff City: Paddy McNair earns hosts a point

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales
Sean Morrison goal
Sean Morrison has now scored five goals this season, including twice this week

Middlesbrough ended Cardiff City's run of successive wins as Paddy McNair's close-range finish earned them a point in a 1-1 draw at the Riverside.

The visitors were second best in the first half but took the lead against the run of play through a Sean Morrison header on 37 minutes.

But McNair was able to get the vital touch after Aden Flint failed to clear late on.

The draw sees Cardiff slip to eighth in the Championship and out of the play-off places, while Middlesbrough remain ninth.

Cardiff's revival under McCarthy has been nothing short of incredible. The Bluebirds were 15th in the Championship when he took charge, but they have taken 21 points from a possible 27 since then and are a side positively brimming with confidence.

The attention in this contest was always likely to centre around the two managers, who have managed 2,480 matches between them and who are both extremely popular figures in the Welsh capital.

McCarthy (912 games as manager) and former Bluebirds boss Warnock (1,568 games) have both presided over big turnarounds in fortune for the South Wales club, with Cardiff heading into Saturday's contest as the form side in the Championship.

Former team-mates at Barnsley, where McCarthy served as Warnock's apprentice, both veteran managers are eyeing a play-off berth, with just three points separating their sides.

The Bluebirds, who came into this contest having won six on the spin, unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting line-up, while Warnock opted to make four changes to the side beaten in midweek by Bristol City.

Middlesbrough have taken just one point from their past five league matches against Cardiff, while their poor home form is almost entirely to blame them not being higher in the Championship.

Warnock's changes included a start for former Cardiff forward Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who was sacked by the Bluebirds in September 2020 after testing positive for cocaine for the second time, a doping violation that saw him serve a three-month suspension.

It seemed certain that set-pieces would have an influence in this contest, and it so it proved - the game's first chance coming when Harry Wilson's curling free-kick was tipped away by Marcus Bettinelli on eight minutes.

The hosts began to grow into the game and were exerting pressure, but McNair fired wide from a free-kick and Mendez-Laing just failed to control a poor Will Vaulks header back towards his goalkeeper.

Middlesbrough were on top and should have led when Britt Assombalonga went clean through after Jonny Howson's well-weighted pass, but Dillon Phillips produced a smart save at the near post.

The chances kept coming for the hosts - Grant Hall heading wide from Mendez-Laing's cross and Duncan Watmore seeing his shot brilliantly blocked by Curtis Nelson.

The misses proved crucial as the Bluebirds then took the lead on 37 minutes from just their second attempt on goal, Morrison glancing home from Vaulks' massive long throw.

Middlesbrough had lost more home league matches in 2021 than any other Championship side going into this one, and a lack of confidence was evident in the second period as they huffed and puffed without fashioning clear chances.

However, with eight minutes left, Flint's poor clearance bounced around the box and McNair reacted quickest to stab the ball in from close range.

The equaliser means Cardiff's winning run is halted, but they remain unbeaten in nine matches since McCarthy's appointment.

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock said:

"We enjoyed it today. I've been on at them all week about how difficult it will be because of the way they play.

"The lads competed other than the goal and we played some good stuff at times. We passed it well.

"The goal came and the lads on the bench said let's make sure we don't give it away, I said let's go and win it.

"You only have to look at the stats, we dominated the game really. We had one or two really good performances. It's a promising game in the circumstances.

"I was ever so pleased with the substitutes, all of them, and we needed that."

Cardiff boss Mick McCarthy said:

Middlesbrough 1-1 Cardiff City: That throw-in is a really good weapon - McCarthy

"I think a draw was fair, yes, I couldn't sit here and say we deserved to win the game.

"I can sit here and say we should have won the game from that position.

"I can say we will take the point as once they got momentum we had to fight it out. I will take the point all day.

"That throw-in is a really good weapon, whoever is throwing it in, be it Will Vaulks or Rory Delap, because it is so flat."

Line-ups

Middlesbrough

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Bettinelli
  • 2Dijksteel
  • 4Hall
  • 6Fry
  • 27BolaSubstituted forJohnsonat 71'minutes
  • 7Tavernier
  • 17McNair
  • 16Howson
  • 19Mendez-LaingSubstituted forKebanoat 71'minutes
  • 18WatmoreSubstituted forAkpomat 81'minutes
  • 9AssombalongaSubstituted forSpenceat 81'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Johnson
  • 5Morsy
  • 10Akpom
  • 13Archer
  • 20Fisher
  • 21Kebano
  • 22Saville
  • 29Spence
  • 33Coulson

Cardiff

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Phillips
  • 4Morrison
  • 5Flint
  • 16Nelson
  • 38NgBooked at 59mins
  • 6VaulksBooked at 30minsSubstituted forRallsat 67'minutes
  • 21Pack
  • 3BennettBooked at 57mins
  • 23WilsonSubstituted forBacunaat 67'minutes
  • 11MurphySubstituted forOjoat 61'minutes
  • 10Moore

Substitutes

  • 7Bacuna
  • 8Ralls
  • 12Smithies
  • 15Williams
  • 27Ojo
  • 28Sang
  • 29M Harris
  • 32Bagan
  • 33Hoilett
Referee:
Jarred Gillett

Match Stats

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamCardiff
Possession
Home61%
Away39%
Shots
Home10
Away2
Shots on Target
Home2
Away2
Corners
Home11
Away0
Fouls
Home8
Away12

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Cardiff City 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Cardiff City 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Anfernee Dijksteel.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Djed Spence (Middlesbrough).

  5. Post update

    Marlon Pack (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Neeskens Kebano (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Joe Ralls (Cardiff City).

  8. Post update

    Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Marlon Pack.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Perry Ng.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Leandro Bacuna.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough).

  12. Post update

    Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Goal!

    Goal! Middlesbrough 1, Cardiff City 1. Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from very close range to the top left corner. Assisted by Chuba Akpom.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough) with an attempt from very close range is close, but misses to the left.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Middlesbrough. Djed Spence replaces Britt Assombalonga.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Middlesbrough. Chuba Akpom replaces Duncan Watmore.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Marvin Johnson (Middlesbrough).

  18. Post update

    Perry Ng (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Marvin Johnson (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Neeskens Kebano with a cross.

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich32207545252067
2Brentford33189661352663
3Watford33179743241960
4Swansea31178639221759
5Reading33166114537854
6Bournemouth331410947321552
7Barnsley32156113836251
8Cardiff331481149351450
9Middlesbrough33138123835347
10Stoke331112103837145
11Bristol City33143163544-945
12Millwall3391683230243
13Preston33134163742-543
14Luton32118132737-1041
15Blackburn32117144638840
16Nottm Forest331010132832-440
17QPR311010113136-540
18Derby32108142533-838
19Huddersfield33106173850-1236
20Coventry33811143044-1435
21Birmingham33810152541-1634
22Rotherham3185183342-929
23Sheff Wed3297162338-1528
24Wycombe3158182351-2823
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