Middlesbrough have taken a mere eight points from a possible 33 available when facing the eight sides above them so far this season. Cardiff City added to this poor record for the Teessiders, as they triumphed 1-0 in South Wales on Saturday.
Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough have been inconsistent to say the least since he took over on Boxing Day. They have won three, drew one and lost four games since the Welshman began his reign at the club, showing that they haven’t exactly hit the ground running.
However, they remain just outside the play-off places, although the gap has stretched from four to five after the weekend’s defeat.
Sean Morrison’s header was enough to seal the victory for the home side, as they move up to second after other results went in their favour.
The game was far from enthralling, as both sides struggled to create chances in the opening exchanges. Junior Hoilett tormented Middlesbrough’s defence, but the two chances he did have went straight at Darren Randolph and high over the crossbar.
Adama Traore has been Boro’s go-to guy in recent weeks, but Cardiff City nullified the threat from minute one. The only chance he did have came after beating a number of Cardiff defenders but his shot was tame from long-distance.
The goal came from a set-piece, and looked the most likely way of opening the scoring given the cagey nature of the tie. Junior Hoilett again was at the forefront, as he whipped in a free kick from the corner of the box. The ball wasn’t defended well and Morrison was able to head home from close range at the back post.
A late flurry of half-chances from Middlesbrough proved to be indecisive, with Stewart Downing going close in the second-half.
Middlesbrough host Hull City on Tuesday night as they aim to put pressure on the play-offs, whilst Cardiff travel to Ipswich Town on Wednesday.