Middlesbrough 1 Millwall 2: Boro's play-off chances dealt major blow after home defeat
19:31 GMT, 23 February 2013
19:31 GMT, 23 February 2013
Middlesbrough's play-off hopes were dealt another crushing blow as they went down to defeat against Millwall at the Riverside Stadium.
Tony Mowbray's side slipped out of the top six for the first time since October prior to kick-off following Brighton's win over Burnley, and Boro's performance did not match that of a side striving for promotion to the Premier League.
However, Millwall, who had lost their last five in the npower Championship, did not look like a side struggling for form as they dominated throughout in a thrilling encounter.
An own goal from defender George Friend and Lions midfielder Martyn Woolford sealed a first away win for Kenny Jackett's side since November with Curtis Main pulling one back for the hosts.
Doubled: Martyn Woolford slotted home Millwall's second goal
Middlesbrough: Steele, Bailey, McManus, Bikey, Friend, Dyer (Miller 46), Rhys Williams (Carayol 46), Leadbitter, McEachran, Emnes (McDonald 69), Main.
Subs Not Used: Ripley, Ledesma, Hines, Smallwood.
Goals: Main 75.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Osborne, Beevers, Henry, Abdou, Wright, Woolford, Marquis, Afobe.
Subs Not Used: Maik Taylor, Trotter, Tyson, Keogh, N'Guessan, Adam Smith, Malone.
Booked: Osborne, Wright, Forde.
Goals: Friend 25 og, Woolford 40.
Ref: Michael Naylor (Sheffield).
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Kieron Dyer and striker Main were the
only changes to the Boro side that drew a blank at Burnley in midweek
while Jackett recalled five players including Benik Afobe, Alan Dunne
and skipper Danny Shittu following their 5-1 defeat at home to
Peterborough last time out.
The first real chance arrived on 15
minutes when Karleigh Osborne tripped Main on the edge of the box. Grant
Leadbitter took the kick and Jason Steele was struggling to get across
as it narrowly flew over the crossbar.
Main was appealing to referee Michael
Naylor again shortly after when he went down under pressure from Dunne
inside the penalty area. Naylor waved away the protests as he became
increasingly unpopular with the home supporters.
His reputation did not improve when
the Lions, virtually straight after the incident, took the lead on 25
minutes. James Henry delivered a pin-point cross from the left and an
unfortunate Friend headed into his own goal under pressure from Afobe
and John Marquis.
Friend along with his team mates felt he was fouled in the build up, only adding to the now toxic atmosphere inside the ground.
Hope: Curtis Main scored for Middlesbrough but it was too little too late
However, Boro almost replied
immediately when Main met a Leadbitter corner full only to see his
powerful header well blocked on the line by Nadjim Abdou.
The visitors looked rattled by
Middlesbrough's response and goalkeeper David Forde almost gifted them
an equaliser when he spilled a cross only for Mark Beevers to again
clear off the line.
But Kenny Jackett's side took full
control five minutes before the break when Jason Steele pushed Afobe's
original effort into the path of Woolford who enjoyed the simplest of
finishes to double the advantage.
Boro tried to rally a response after
the break following the introduction of Ishmael Miller and Mustapha
Carayol, and it was the latter who tested the reflexes of Forde on the
hour mark as the Republic of Ireland international made a smart stop at
his near post.
A goal was coming though, and Friend
went some way to making amends when he skipped into the area on 75
minutes before pulling the ball back for Main who tapped into an empty
net from six yards.
That strike clearly energised them as
Main fired a golden opportunity wide with five minutes remaining before
late drama erupted deep into stoppage time when substitute Scott
McDonald's apparent equaliser was ruled out for offside.
A melee ensued and referee Naylor was
almost caught in the middle of it before bringing the game and
Millwall's slump to an end, condemning Boro to a seventh league defeat
in their last nine outings.