Mid­dles­brough’s win over Wi­gan on Fri­day put them back on top

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Paul Fer­ris

PA­TRICK Bamford’s lat­est goal in a Mid­dles­brough shirt got Teesside dreaming of the Pre­mier League – even if Ai­tor Karanka is des­per­ate to stop sup­port­ers get­ting car­ried away.

Boro will head to au­to­matic pro­mo­tion ri­vals Wat­ford on Mon­day top of the ta­ble cour­tesy of a hard-earned three points against a Wi­gan Ath­letic team seem­ingly des­tined for League One.

The Lat­ics are five points adrift of safety af­ter yet an­other de­feat; this time cour­tesy of Bamford’s 15th goal in the Cham­pi­onship since his loan move from Chelsea.

The 21-year-old’s fifth goal in his last six matches has equalled the best league re­turn of a Mid­dles­brough player in the last 18 years, to keep Karanka’s team right in the pro­mo­tion mix.

But Karanka said: “I know how im­por­tant it is to win at this stage of the sea­son. We did our job and now we have three more points and one game less to go.

“The per­for­mance was not as good as ev­ery­one wanted but the main thing is to win.We have six to go and the squad is con­fi­dent and we are ready for Mon­day at Wat­ford. I never go into a game think­ing we can draw, so we go there think­ing we can beat them.

“The mes­sage to the sup­port­ers is to keep calm. I said it was go­ing to be a tight race and so it will be.

“This league is very tough and I want to thank the fans for their sup­port be­cause it is bril­liant when the stands are full. They de­serve to be in this po­si­tion. We just need them to stick with us.”

While the River­side was rocking at the fi­nal whis­tle as the battle for a Pre­mier League re­turn in­ten­si­fies, Wi­gan’s trav­el­ling sup­port must be re­signed to life back in League One.

Lat­ics boss Malky Mackay, who faces Derby on Mon­day, said: “I am re­ally dis­ap­pointed we didn’t get any­thing out of the game. I don’t think it is out­ra­geous to say we de­served some­thing go­ing toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the di­vi­sion.

“We were ter­rific in the sec­ond half and we had four good chances, but it is about stick­ing the ball in the net, which is some­thing Wi­gan have had an is­sue with since the start of the sea­son.”

Wi­gan had ar­rived in the north-east boasting four straight vic­to­ries on their trav­els which had raised con­cerns among the Mid­dles­brough camp.

But af­ter a bright enough start, the home side com­fort­ably saw out the first half af­ter Bamford’s 20th-minute opener – even though clear-cut chances were few and far be­tween.

The win­ning goal ac­tu­ally came when a Wi­gan cor­ner was badly dealt with by Dimi Kon­stan­topou­los. The loose ball ended up at the feet of Adam Clay­ton, and af­ter Al­bert Adomah and Jelle Vossen com­bined in style it was Bamford whose del­i­cate shot de­f­elected off a de­fender and in­side Ali Al-Habsi’s bot­tom cor­ner.

Al-Habsi made a cou­ple of stops from Bamford af­ter that but Wi­gan could quite eas­ily have been level by the time the full­time whis­tle was blown.

Kon­stan­topou­los made a save to deny striker Marc An­toine-For­tune, while James McClean and Jer­maine Pen­nant wasted glo­ri­ous chances.

But Mid­dles­brough, who were in­debted to a bril­liant dis­play by Jonathan Woodgate, did enough to get the job done.

PA­TRICK’S DAY: On-loan Chelsea striker Pa­trick Bamford con­tin­ued his stunning form with an­other goal for Mid­dles­brough

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

his strike HUGS: Bamford cel­e­brates

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