MID­DLES­BROUGH...............................................................................3 Boro bat­tle back twice to claim an­other vic­tory at the River­side

Sunday Sun - - Football -

Ste­wart Down­ing and Britt As­som­ba­longa cel­e­brate Boro’s third goal MID­DLES­BROUGH had to come from be­hind twice to main­tain their un­beaten home record this sea­son with a hard-fought 3-2 win over QPR.

Ian Hol­loway’s side took the lead at the be­gin­ning of each half when David Wheeler and sub­sti­tute Jamie Mackie scored in the sec­ond and 50th min­utes re­spec­tively at the River­side.

But Boro pegged them back twice courtesy of Lewis Baker’s goal nine min­utes be­fore the break and then Ash­ley Fletcher’s header in the 56th minute and, de­spite a few other late scares, the hosts sealed all three points thanks to Britt As­som­ba­longa’s div­ing header on the hour.

Hol­loway could not have asked for a bet­ter start.

He knew Mid­dles­brough had not con­ceded in any of their open­ing three matches on home soil, but it only took 101 sec­onds to end that.

Garry Monk’s side, with­out the wing-wiz­ardry and pace of the sus­pended Adama Traore fol­low­ing his send­ing-off in mid­week, were slow out of the blocks.

The home de­fence was caught nap­ping when Luke Free­man rolled a pass into the penalty area and Wheeler ar­rived un­de­tected be­fore fin­ish­ing low and be­yond Darren Ran­dolph.

Ran­dolph was called upon oc­ca­sion­ally but by and large he was left to mon­i­tor events at the other end of the pitch in the first half, where QPR did what they could to pre­vent Mid­dles­brough from test­ing his op­po­site num­ber Alex Smithies.

There was a harm­less ef­fort from Ste­wart Down­ing which rolled into the arms of the goal­keeper, while the lively Marvin John­son saw a shot fly wide af­ter a lovely turn and pass from Down­ing.

Hol­loway’s game-plan ap­peared as if it would work to a tee and keep QPR ahead at half-time, only for Baker to strike and make things even for the sec­ond half.

Baker, on loan from Chelsea, was picked out in acres of space by John- Boro went a goal down in the sec­ond minute, David Wheeler scor­ing for QPR Marvin John­son and Pavel Ws­zolek son’s re­verse pass and he took a touch be­fore care­fully dis­patch­ing a low fin­ish be­yond Smithies that lev­elled things up.

The Eng­land Un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional had an­other chance be­fore the break too, but this time Smithies, div­ing low to his left, was equal to his half-vol­ley from the edge of the area. But Mid­dles­brough, who boldly threw on for­ward Fletcher for mid­fielder Adam Clayton for the sec­ond half, suf­fered fur­ther frus­tra­tion with a poor goal.

QPR’s own sub­sti­tute put them in front again. Mackie was left to tap into an empty net with a sim­ple fin­ish af­ter Ran­dolph and Ben Gib­son got them­selves in a mud­dle out­side the box.

The lead lasted just five min­utes be­cause Fletcher timed his run to the near post to per­fec­tion to glance in Cyrus Christie’s per­fect de­liv­ery -

KATIE LUNN

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