Bristol City v Middlesbrough
Saturday August 31, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports
Bristol City bag three wins on the spin
Benik Afobe scored twice as Bristol City earned a third successive Championship win with a 3-1 victory at Hull last weekend. The Robins, unbeaten since the opening weekend of the season, moved up to fourth in the second-tier standings following their accomplished effort on Humberside, with boss Lee Johnson paying particular praise to his team's youngsters.
Afobe gave Bristol City the lead from the spot before Famara Diedhiou struck the woodwork and Hull levelled. Having arrived at the interval all-square, the Robins restored their lead when Jack Hunt's low cross was diverted in for an own goal, and on-loan Afobe secured the points when turning in an almost identical delivery from substitute Hunt for the third.
But it was not all good news for the Robins, who had club record signing Tomas Kalas stretchered off with a hamstring injury. The Czech centre-half has joined key first-team players Jay Dasilva, Adam Nagy, Bailey Wright and Korey Smith on the sidelines with new addition Ashley Williams now in contention after coming through a midweek U23 outing.
Middlesbrough come up short
Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate admitted, "the first-half performance wasn't good enough" after seeing the Teessiders held to a 1-1 draw by Millwall at the Riverside last Saturday. The Boro boss claimed his side "didn't show up" during the opening 45 minutes as the hosts were largely second-best on their own patch in a muddled display.
The game was goalless at the interval but Boro improved thereafter with Paddy McNair posing a threat from midfield and Britt Assombalonga having a penalty appeal turned down. McNair looked to sealed matters after being slipped in by Ashley Fletcher following a superb team move. However, Boro's advantage lasted just six minutes as Millwall bounced back.
Woodgate was also unhappy with the referees performance post-match, although his side were largely (and worryingly) restricted to long-range efforts as they looked for a second consecutive victory, landing only two on-target shots from inside the penalty area. Dael Fry could return to the tam at centre-half but fellow defender George Friend remains absent.
Difficult to dismiss in-form Robins
Over the last two Championship seasons, Bristol City and Middlesbrough have traded triumphs with two successes each. Last August's 2-0 win for Boro at Ashton Gate ended a run of three successive victories for the Robins here when welcoming the Teessiders.
After a scalding opening day defeat to Leeds, Bristol City 2.0421/20 appear to have found their feet. Lee Johnson's group impressed when holding Birmingham away, before scoring at least twice in each of their three consecutive wins against QPR, Derby and Hull, even if performance data metrics suggest the Robins have slightly overperformed of late.
Middlesbrough 3.90 have begun the Jonathan Woodgate era with a mediocre W1-D2-L2 return. The Teessiders haven't often passed the eye test this term and it's intriguing to note that Boro have also lost the Expected Goals (xG) battle in four of their opening five encounters despite facing only one team occupying an early top-half berth.
Contrasting goal trends
Four of the past six head-to-head meetings have failed to deliver for goals-based backers, although there's hope that Saturday's showdown could ignite. Bristol City's defensive injuries ensure the Robins are nowhere near as proficient as they'd like to be, but Lee Johnson's group still pack plenty of punch in the final-third.
The hosts have scored in all five of their Championship games this term with four rewarding Both Teams To Score 1.824/5 backers. However, Middlesbrough haven't proven quite as prolific with at least one team failing to notch in three fixtures and only their opening outing at Luton paying-out for Over 2.5 Goals 1.991/1 supporters this season.
Bristol City have settled well after their opening day humbling and can avoid defeat at the very least when welcoming Middlesbrough to Ashton Gate on Saturday. The Robins boast enough firepower to make their mark, although a high-scoring encounter looks unlikely with Boro's most recent four league outings producing just five goals.
It therefore makes sense to dip into the Same Game Multi markets on Betfair Sportsbook and support Bristol City double chance and Under 3.5 Goals at a very generous 1.70. It means we'll make money should the game end 0-0, 1-1 or in 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 or 2-1 victories for the Robins.