MIDDLESBROUGH manager Neil Warnock is set for talks with chairman Steve Gibson today – and George Saville’s 87th-minute winner at St. Andrew’s last night will ensure the tone of the meeting is a positive one.

Substitute Saville produced an unlikely winner for Boro to move them to within three points of the play-off positions.

Prior to that, Grant Hall’s first Boro goal was a lone highlight of a determined if limited attacking performance.

A poor game was limping towards a 1-1 draw against Coventry City, the club with the second lowest budget in the Championship.

While Boro looked solid at the back, they desperately struggled to create chances and looked short of craft and ideas going forwards.

In fact, the longer the game went on, Coventry looked the more likely team to win what was a forgettable match before Saville poked home, just two minutes after he replaced Marcus Tavernier.

Boro went into the game with just two wins out of their previous nine and they made the worst possible start when they conceded after 11 minutes.

It was a goal Warnock would have been proud for his own team to score, coming via a well-worked set-piece, but from the opposition, it left him understandably frustrated.

Sam McCallum hurled in a long throw from the left, Michael Rose flicked on at the near post, and Max Biamou and Anfernee Dijksteel both went for the ball at the far post, with the Boro man getting the final touch to divert it past Marcus Bettinelli.

Boro struggled to create chances for much of the rest of the half as Coventry looked livelier and were often quickest to the ball on a tricky pitch that is starting to attract its fair share of criticism.

Neeskens Kebano had Boro’s first sight of goal in the 18th minute with a first-time shot but Rose was well placed to block the goalbound effort.

Boro had to be alert at the other end as Gustavo Hamer curled narrowly wide from 22 yards.

But the visitors were working their way into the game and they delivered a set-piece that Warnock would have relished as it saw them drew level in the 42nd minute.

Paddy McNair swung in a free kick to the far post from the right and Hall met it at the far post with a towering header to arrow the ball back across goal and into the net.

It was the first goal for the club for the centre back – who was in familiar territory at St. Andrew’s after he had a seven-match loan spell with Birmingham City in 2014-15 – and it was perfectly timed to give Boro hope going into half-time.

Coventry remained alert, throwing their bodies into headers, blocks and tackles to repel Boro with defences very much on top and chances at a premium.

Warnock made a triple substitution in the 73rd minute, bringing on Duncan Watmore, Yannick Bolasie and Marvin Johnson for Kebano, Chuba Akpom and Marc Bola. But it made little difference as the game continued to be dominated by defences, or increasingly, Middlesbrough’s back line.

The Sky Blues threatened when substitute Matty James’s curling shot was deflected behind, then Hamer ballooned high over the bar.

But seemingly out of nowhere, Boro scored the winner.

Jonny Howson was allowed to dribble from right to left in front of the penalty area before exchanging passes with fellow sub Johnson, whose reverse pass left the midfielder in space to cross.

Coventry failed to clear and Saville poked the ball over the goalline.