St Andrew’s Stadium, Wednesday 18th February, 19:45
Birmingham City (Last League Starting XI): Randolph; Caddis, Spector, Robinson, Grounds; Davis, Gleeson, Cotterill, Shinnie, Dyer; Donaldson
Middlesbrough (Last League Starting XI): Konstantopoulos; Whitehead, Ayala, Woodgate, Kalas; Clayton, Forshaw, Adomah, Vossen, Reach; Kike
Birmingham City’s Form (Last 6 League Games): LDDDDW
Middlesbrough’s Form (Last 6 League Games): WWWWWD
- To Win To Nil- Middlesbrough: 21/10
Middlesbrough are in red-hot form at the moment, and despite a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal last weekend in the FA Cup, they are still many people’s favourites for promotion back to the Premier League. Middlesbrough have the best defence in the league, conceding just 20 goals from their 30 league games so far this season, and keeping 7 clean sheets out of their last 11 games in all competitions. Although they are the lowest scorers out of all the teams in the top 6, their astute defence means that just the one goal can get Boro all 3 points.
- Middlesbrough Goal – 76th Minute to Full Time – Yes: 2/1
In their last 5 games alone, Middlesbrough have managed to grab 4 goals beyond the 80th minute including Kike’s strike at the Etihad in Middlesbrough’s memorable win over Manchester City. There are two ways in which I can see Boro grabbing a late goal in this game; firstly, if they are ahead, Birmingham may over commit players leaving gaps at the back which could be exploited, secondly, if they are behind, teams at the top of the league often find a way to get a result late on in games.
- Scorecast – Middlesbrough 2-0 and Bamford to Score First: 33/1
Without knowing Karanka’s team selection for tonight’s clash in the West Midlands, it’s difficult to accurately predict a scorecast. However, I believe that if Patrick Bamford does start the game tonight, his recent form suggests he will be one of the favourites to score first. He was substituted off after just 54 minutes against Arsenal at the weekend, potentially so that he is rested for tonight’s game. Also, as I have already mentioned, Boro’s defence is proving to be a real strength for them this season and therefore I can see them winning this game without conceding.
- First Goalscorer – David Coterill: 12/1
Birmingham’s form has taken a dip over recent weeks after a very impressive recovery since Gary Rowett took over. If Birmingham can find the form that saw them take 23 points from Rowett’s first 11 games in charge, then they may cause a slight upset by beating the division’s form side. Clayton Donaldson is City’s top scorer this season with 11 goals, but David Cotterill has impressed many throughout the season and has bagged 7 goals from midfield. Therefore, if Birmingham are to score first tonight, it would not be a surprise to see the Welshman score it.
(All of the odds in this article were taken from William Hill)