Middlesbrough rue missed chances
Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder was left rueing missed opportunities as Boro were held to a 1-1 draw at Swansea on Saturday. The point kept the Teessiders play-off hopes alive, but leaves little margin for error across the club’s final three league games.
Boro had more than enough opportunities to win the Liberty Stadium clash. Despite Swansea’s possessional dominance, Wilder’s outfit had the only chance of a drab first half before a manic second period saw both sides score within three minutes of the restart, both sides hit the bar in the next 10 thereafter, and then both had other opportunities to win it.
Wilder accepted that a draw was a fair result. Speaking post-match, he said: “It could have gone either way. I do believe we’ve had some great chances though. We go 1-0 up, have arguably the best chance of the game just after. Then we’ve had the best opportunity of the game at the death. It’s a huge game now Wednesday, a season-defining game for us.”
Cardiff fall to another defeat
Cardiff succumbed to their fourth defeat in five as a second-half header from Iliman Ndiaye was enough to earn Sheffield United a narrow 1-0 victory at Bramall Lane against the Bluebirds on Saturday. There was precious little to separate the sides before the break, but a bullet header from the Blades frontman seconds after the restart settled matters.
The capital club did enjoy the best opportunity of the first-half, when Max Watters‘ tame effort was saved by Wes Foderingham despite being clean through on goal. And manager Steve Morison was keen to focus on the positives post-match despite seeing Cardiff slide down to 19th in the Championship standings as the current campaign fizzles out.
Morison said, “We are a team in transition but I thought we were excellent, it was tough for us against a very good team. We started well and should have taken one of our chances, we didn’t, and I’m gutted with the goal but it’s shows how far we’ve come. We’re doing the best we can with the group and I think there was some really good performances out there.”
Middlesbrough and Cardiff have been regular opponents in recent years, meeting in 19 head-to-head league matches since the beginning of the 2009/10 season with the Bluebirds enjoying slight supremacy (W9-D2-L8). At the Riverside Stadium, Boro have only picked up maximum points in four of the nine showdowns during that same sample (W4-D1-L4).
Middlesbrough 1.548/15 were 14th when Chris Wilder took charge in November but have enjoyed an eye-catching revival, collecting the sixth-most Championship points under the new regime (W12-D6-L8). The majority of Boro’s best work has been done on Teesside with the Reds picking up a W8-D1-L4 record when hosting opposition during Wilder’s tenure.
Cardiff 6.005/1 are already planning for next season with the Welsh outfit marooned in the lower reaches of the bottom-half. The Bluebirds have fallen to four league losses in their last five and have returned W5-D2-L10 from their trips to teams above them in the second-tier table. Only three sides have lost more overall league games than Cardiff’s tally of 22.
Middlesbrough matches under Chris Wilder have averaged 2.30 goals per-game with 12/26 (46%) producing Over 2.5 Goals 2.021/1 profit. At The Riverside, Boro’s much-improved rearguard has allowed only eight goals against in their last 11 home ties, with the Teessiders now recording nine clean sheets in their past 22 Championship fixtures.
In contrast, Cardiff have managed to silence only six of their 43 opponents across the full Championship campaign this season. The Bluebirds’ unreliable rearguard has accumulated just two shutouts on the road with away days proving goal-heavy – City have seen 3.05 goals per-game on average with 15/21 (71%) of games as guests going Over 2.5.
With that in mind, I’m happy to support Middlesbrough to win and Over 1.5 Goals at 1.855/6. We’re effectively backing Boro to win by any scoreline that’s not 1-0 – the motivated hosts have won seven of their 11 match-ups with bottom-six opposition, striking twice or more in eight of those encounters, whilst Cardiff already appear to have clocked off this term.