Main hits winner to keep play-off hopes alive

MIDDLESBROUGH’S hopes of landing a play-off spot received a massive boost after Curtis Main scored a late winner against Derby County.

MIDDLESBROUGH’S hopes of landing a play-off spot received a massive boost after Curtis Main scored a late winner against Derby County.

 

Tony Mowbray’s side had created several chances as they looked to get an all important win, but they had to wait until the 80th minute when Main slammed home from the left side of the area after receiving a diagonal ball from Barry Robson.

 

Having managed just two wins in their last ten games, this game had a distinct must-win feel about it if Boro wanted to keep their chances of a play-off place alive.

 

And with Marvin Emnes, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Scott McDonald all starting, Mowbray’s selection demonstrated the need to come away from Pride Park with three points.

 

However, Nigel Clough’s side has been in decent form of late and with only two defeats from their last ten games, it would be naïve to think this would be anything but straightforward for the Teessiders.

 

The Rams continued their recent form in the early stages when Ben Davies knocked down for Steven Davies to rifle his shot just over Jason Steele’s bar.

 

It was a lively start from the visitors too, Barry Robson’s diagonal ball into the box cleared to Faris Haroun, but his dipping volley sailed inches over the host’s bar.

 

Mowbray’s men continued to put early pressure on their opponents and after a mis-placed pass, Emnes broke forward and fired in a low shot, which was collected by Fielding.

 

With their play-off aspirations hanging by a thread, Boro needed to make the most of their chances and having returned to the side after missing the defeat at Hull City on Monday, Jutkiewicz missed a great chance to put Boro ahead.

 

The former Coventry City hit man pounced on a stray pass on the edge of the Derby box and after taking the past Fielding, he sent a low cross towards goal only for Jason Shackell to intercept his shot.

 

Tony McMahon then went close with his 25-yard free-kick, but a combination of the crossbar and Fielding’s right hand kept the ball out.

 

Derby replied with a quick break, but Steele did well to tackle Robinson as the forward attempted to take the ball past the keeper.

 

Robinson threatened again minutes later, cutting inside from the left and sending an inviting ball across the area, but it just evaded the waiting Steven Davies and Paul Green

 

Derby did have the ball in the back of the net in the 37th minute through Robinson, but the goal was quickly disallowed when the linesman flagged for offside.

 

Mowbray’s men could not be faulted for their first-half efforts, but with team around them all losing they needed a breakthrough quickly.

 

That almost came minutes after the restart when Robson cut back to McMahon, who put a first time cross in to Jutkiewicz, but Fielding made a brilliant save to deny the striker’s header.

Derby were denied the lead again when Steven Davies’ finish was ruled offside, but not long after he almost gave the hosts the lead with his low shot.

 

With time ticking, Mowbray introduced Curtin Main for Jutkiewicz and within three minutes the former Darlington man put Boro ahead.

 

A diagonal ball across field from Robson found Main and the striker drilled a low shot past Fielding with ten minutes left of normal time.

 

Green had a brilliant chance to equalise in stoppage time for Derby, but his low effort from the back post went wide.

 

Derby County: Fielding; Buxton, Shackell, Roberts, Naylor, Bryson, B Davies (Tyson 80), Hendrick (Carroll 86), Davies, Robinson (Ward 74), Green

Subs (not used): Severn, Bailey.

 

Middlesbrough: Steele; McMahon, Hines, McManus, Hoyte; Bailey; McDonald, Haroun, Robson, Emnes (Thomson 82); Jutkiewicz (Main 77).

Subs (not used): Ogbeche, Smallwood, Hammill.

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