Middlesbrough have created a series of memorable moments in recent weeks with dominant performances, entertaining football and late drama. But based on what we saw at the Riverside at the weekend, what else can you say about this Middlesbrough team at the moment? The encounter with Reading was far from a classic and Boro weren’t at their best. But for the third game in a row, a stoppage time winner saw Chris Wilder and his side keep the steam train rolling along the tracks, condemn the Royals to a 2-1 defeat and climb into the Championship play-off places. Try and stop them if you can.

The first 15 minutes of the game belonged to Boro as Wilder’s side knocked the ball around well in Reading’s third and demonstrated the swagger they’ve developed over the last two months. But clear cut chances were few and far between. There was a sense that Boro were going to dominate and dictate the play but it was a case of whether Reading’s resolve would break. With Andy Carroll leading the line, they always had a chance.

But Velkjo Paunovic’s side showed a swagger of their own to work their way into the game. Junior Hoilett combined well with John Swift as a one-two was played with the Canadian drifting in from the right. Hoilett received possession again on the edge of the box but sliced his shot wide with the weaker foot.

Boro then came agonisingly close through an unlikely source. After another passage of neat passing in the final third, Jonny Howson was teed up on the edge of the box. His first time effort took a wicked deflection off Josh Laurent completely wrong footing keeper Luke Southwood but the ball bounced within an inch of the post. You’d think chances don’t come much closer than that, until a couple of minutes later.

The Northern Echo:

Isaiah Jones low cross from the right was met in the six yard box by Andraz Sporar. His goalwards flick was well saved by Southwood but the effort was then deflected off Laurent for a second time. Fans rose off their seats thinking the ball was rolling in only to see it bounce off the inside of the post as the Reading defender was almost at the heart of two Boro goals. The home side were upping the anti at the Riverside.

Moments after Hoilett went into the book for a late one on Howson, he was at the heart of the action again for Reading. He latched onto a long ball and carried it into the box. With little options available, he struck at the near post only to see the effort palmed out by Joe Lumley.

The Northern Echo:

Aaron Connolly was handed his Boro debut and got his first real opening in the game in the final five minutes of the first half. Boro broke on the counter and sprung attack on the left with the Irishman. He used neat footwork to drift inside, beat his man and bend a shot from the edge of the box but the effort flew just over the bar. That was quickly followed up by two shots inside the box, one that rolled wide of the post and one that was well saved by Southwood. It was the final action of the half which needed a cutting edge.

The first 15 minutes of the second half saw Boro barely out of their own half. Reading carved out the best chance when the ball was worked well down the right hand side. A cutback found Swift inside the box with space but his effort was well blocked by Boro’s lighthouse Dael Fry.

Boro needed an injection of something special in the game and Wilder threw the dice with the introduction of fellow debutant Folarin Balogun. But it was the old trusted head of Carroll who did what he does best to hand the visitors the lead.

Just after the hour mark, Tom Dele-Bashiru floated a ball from the left to the back post. Carroll rose highest above his defenders and nod the ball over Lumley and into the far corner.

The Northern Echo:

Boro almost instantly replied when a high cross from the left was nodded down by Sporar. The ball fell invitingly for Matt Crooks but he lashed his first time shot wide of the mark.

The game turned into a preservation job for Reading who were happy to shut up shop while Boro were desperately trying to find a chink in the Royals armour.

In the end, Boro had to go to a more direct route to find a leveller and it worked for them. After a spell of sustained pressure, Tavernier swung a cross into the area which Crooks met with a powerful header. His effort was palmed into the top of the net by Southwood as the Riverside erupted. With five minutes on the clock, surely there wasn’t going to be another late winner for them?

The script was written for the third game in a row as Boro won it at the death. With six minutes of stoppage time, ball after ball into the box was thrown into the box. In the end, it took a bit of trickery from Jones to side step his man, fizz a curling cross into the area on a plate for Crooks to power his header home. Limbs were flying all four corners of the Riverside as Wilder’s side produced stoppage time heroics for the third game in a row.

They are into the Championship play-offs after a fifth win in a row. Try and stop them if you can.