We continue to catch up with postponed and rearranged matches in the Sky Bet Championship season on Wednesday evening when there is another big match taking place as Middlesbrough host Cardiff City at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough currently sit five points outside the top six so while their season will not end should they not win this match, clearly their play-off hopes will be significantly boosted should they come out on top. Cardiff might be the ideal opponent in that they have little to play for.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels with the build-up to the contest beginning at 7.30pm and kick off coming 15 minutes later.
It looked inconceivable that Middlesbrough wouldn’t make the top six after they beat Luton at the beginning of March but as is so often the case when a team draws a giant in the cup their attention seemed to switch and they have not been able to find any sort of consistency since then. They have won just two of their last nine matches in the league and lost to Chelsea in the cup in that time so they have thrown away a good position.
It isn’t too late for them to strike though. The positive is that other teams in and around the top six have faltered too but Boro are going to need to deliver the goods sooner rather than later. It isn’t ideal that whatever happens here their destiny will be out of their own hands but what has gone has gone. If Middlesbrough are going to make the top six they are going to have to significantly turn their fortunes in front of goal around as they have found the back of the net just once in five matches.
This is a Cardiff City side who are very much in transition these days. Once their safety was confirmed Steve Morison made it quite clear that he is preparing for next season and that means giving some of his younger players a go and potentially freezing out some of the higher earners in a bid to be able to reshape his squad in the summer, should he be the man the Welsh outfit choose to continue with after a disappointing campaign overall.
This period might be good for Cardiff in the long-term but the short term results haven’t been great. They have lost their last three and four of their last five with the one win in that time coming at Reading which isn’t exactly much of a form guide. Cardiff haven’t exactly been much better than their opponents here in the scoring department. They have found the net just five times in their last seven outings which is quite a surprise when their manager was an attacker himself.
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Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder hopes that he will be able to call on influential pair Marcus Tavernier and Dael Fry for this match but they were being assessed in training on Tuesday. There will be no Matt Crooks though as he finished his suspension here.
Cardiff City are going to be without Joe Rawls for this match as he has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with injury. Dillon Phillips appears to be the main man between the sticks now while Jordan Hugill is expected to lead the line.
The general consensus about this match is that we’ll see a low scoring game between two sides who are failing to score many goals in recent times. It might well be that it plays out like that but at the same time it could also be that Middlesbrough take inspiration from Blackburn Rovers on Monday night and come out of the last chance saloon kicking and swinging. I’m not suggesting they will win 4-1 or anything like that but I would be surprised if Boro don’t muster up one last challenge for the top six.
Cardiff City are a team going nowhere. They are blooding young players so if Middlesbrough can get on top of them early then given that they are on the beach to use the popular term of this stage of the season, the walls could fall in pretty quickly, even though to be fair to the Welsh outfit they haven’t really been taken apart in recent times. Middlesbrough know the situation and they’ll be at home where the crowd might be able to help them. I’m still not interested in backing a side to win at 4/7 who haven’t won in five but if they do win then there is every chance that they do so to nil. Middlesbrough have the defensive qualities to deal with the direct threat and there isn’t a huge amount else from Cardiff.
Back Middlesbrough to win to nil for a 3/10 stake at 2.45 with Coral
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