The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alex Roberts

MID­DLES­BROUGH’S con­tin­ued Pre­mier League hia­tus has been a mys­tery to most at the River­side, but af­ter de­liv­er­ing the lat­est plot twist in a tan­ta­lis­ing Cham­pi­onship pro­mo­tion race the equa­tion for Ai­tor Karanka’s men is sim­pli­fy­ing.

Alexander Tettey’s own goal af­ter just eight min­utes was all Boro needed to see off a Nor­wich side that, be­fore kick-off, had looked an un­stop­pable force in the hunt for a top-two spot.

Be­fore­hand, Nor­wich were sec­ond and Boro fourth, but now Boro are third and the Ca­naries fourth such is the na­ture of this term’s un­pre­dictable Cham­pi­onship.

Boro know two wins from their fi­nal two fix­tures against Ful­ham and Brighton could yet see them cel­e­brat­ing au­to­matic pro­mo­tion.

And hav­ing de­liv­ered one heroic per­for­mance, winger Al­bert Adomah in­sists his side must pro­duce two more as they pile the pres­sure on their ri­vals.

“It means a lot to ev­ery­one be­cause ob­vi­ously the sea­son is far from over – that puts pres­sure on the other teams to win,” said Adomah.

“At the be­gin­ning, the gaffer told us that we have to take it as a cup game be­cause if we were to win who knows what can hap­pen with the po­ten­tial for other teams to slip up.

“It felt like a cup game, to­wards the end you could prob­a­bly see ev­ery­one was de­fend­ing for their lives.

“We took our op­por­tu­nity.This was a great ex­am­ple of how tight it is. If we had lost, Nor­wich would have been four points clear of us.

“We know that any­one can slip up and we are do­ing great so we must keep the mo­men­tum and fo­cus on win­ning our last two games.”

It was Boro who started like a train with Jelle Vossen head­ing Pa­trick Bamford’s ex­cel­lent cross just over John Ruddy’s cross­bar.

The vis­i­tors carved Nor­wich open once more mo­ments later but Se­bastien Bas­song was in the right place to stop Bamford’s low cross reach­ing an un­marked Vossen.

The re­sult­ing cor­ner, how­ever, an in-swinger from Grant Lead­bit­ter, saw Tettey in­ad­ver­tently head over Ruddy, Adomah just fail­ing to add a touch be­fore it landed in the far cor­ner.

Jonny How­son’s glanc­ing header was Nor­wich’s only real chance, although Wes Hoola­han’s low drive be­fore the break saw Boro keeper Dimi Kon­stan­topou­los save well.

Lee Tom­lin’s 25-yard strike shaved the cross­bar dur­ing one of Boro’s rare sec­ond-half coun­ters and de­spite throw­ing on Lewis Grab­ban, Gary Hooper and Nathan Red­mond, the hosts failed to equalise.

A scuffed Grab­ban ef­fort and a Rus­sell Martin drive were all they could muster, but the lat­ter in­sists his squad will not give up with­out a fight.

“We have to pick our­selves up and win our last two matches,” said Martin.

“There is plenty of be­lief in the dress­ing room that we will still do it, whether it’s the hard way or not.

“All the fo­cus is on look­ing ahead, and we’ll see what hap­pens.

“It’s not a fore­gone con­clu­sion, but we’re re­ally dis­ap­pointed. We’ve got to dust our­selves off bet­ter than any­one else.

“It was a poor start, when we didn’t deal with the way they played well enough. The game was per­fect for them; be­cause if they score first, they are hard to break down.

“You’ll see this in the next cou­ple of weeks – we’ll bounce back.

“There’s plenty of char­ac­ter in that dress­ing room, plenty of fight­ing spirit and we still have be­lief that we will do it.

“We have to go on a lit­tle run again now.

“The re­sults un­der the gaffer have been bril­liant, and we have to carry that on.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

OOPS: Mid­dles­brough’s Al­bert Adomah tries to get a touch to Alexander Tettey’s own goal

BIG MO­MENT: Al­bert Adomah cel­e­brates Boro’s goal

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