Middlesbrough made a huge statement by beating rivals Leeds United on Friday night. The 3-0 win put Boro into the top six for the first time since November, but results elsewhere across the weekend put Boro outside the Play-Offs after all fixtures had been played.
With 11 games left to play, we point out the five reasons why Middlesbrough will make the play-offs.
1. A striker on-form
Patrick Bamford’s hat-trick on Friday against Leeds meant the former-Chelsea forward now has six goals in his last six games. He has shown this sort of form before, as he helped Boro reach the Play-Offs in 2015. That season he scored 17 goals in the Championship, and he picked up the Championship Player of the Year award.
After the injury to Rudy Gestede, manager Tony Pulis persisted with Britt Assombalonga, but the Congolese striker hasn’t yet scored under the new manager’s reign. Bamford’s purple patch has come at the perfect time, with winnable games against Birmingham, Barnsley and Burton Albion in the coming weeks.