Championship basement battlers Hull and Middlesbrough go head-to-head at the KCOM Stadium on Thursday night. Mark O'Haire previews the match...
"Warnock’s change in approach should give Boro the required ballast in forward areas while their organised outlook will provide the platform to pick up at least a point."
Hull v Middlesbrough
Thursday July 2, 17:00
Hull collect rare point
Relegation-threatened Hull chucked away a two-goal lead at Birmingham on Saturday as the Tigers missed out on the chance to secure a first Championship success since January. Grant McCann's men were twice in front at St Andrew's but were unable to hold off a second-half fightback from the Blues in a six-goal thriller that finished all-square.
While the Humbersiders claimed only their third point in 13 matches, a result that allowed Hull to climb out of the bottom three on goal difference, McCann was critical of his team's defending and admitted the draw felt more like a defeat. City had made an eye-catching start with Josh Magennis and James Scott heading Hull into a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes
On-loan Liverpool midfielder Herbie Kane cheekily steered his 20-yard free-kick under the wall to put Hull back ahead after Birmingham equalised only for the hosts to level again with just two minutes to play. McCann had made four changes to his team for the St Andrew's showdown but will be without Mallik Wilks here after his loan deal expired.
Warnock makes dream start as Boro boss
Neil Warnock made a dream start to life as Middlesbrough manager as the Championship strugglers claimed a valuable 2-0 win over fellow relegation scrappers Stoke in his first game in charge. Boro, who replaced Jonathan Woodgate with the veteran last midweek, enjoyed only their second win in 13 games to move two points clear of the drop-zone.
Ashley Fletcher headed Boro in front just before the half-hour and against the run of play, glancing in Patrick Roberts' swinging free-kick. Stoke were then made to pay for their profligate finishing when substitute Marcus Tavernier, with practically his first touches, received the ball, spun and cut inside before bending his shot home for the decisive second.
Middlesbrough switched to a 4-4-2 system for large parts, giving the group balance with wingers providing delivery to two forwards - something craved by Boro fans after several seasons of playing with one central striker. Post-match Warnock said: "I couldn't have asked any more. The lads have shown what they can do and it's now about standards."
Tigers winless since New Year's Day
Hull have struggled in recent skirmishes with Middlesbrough, posting a solitary success in eight head-to-heads over the past five years (W1-D2-L5). However, the hosts have tended to enjoy encounters between the two sides in Humberside, registering four victories from six (W4-D1-L1) since 2011. The duo played out an enjoyable 2-2 draw in the reverse meeting.
Hull 3.6013/5 were just a point off the play-offs after triumphing on New Year's Day but following the sales of dynamic duo Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicky, plus a crippling injury crisis, the Humbersiders have nosedived. City have earned three points from a possible 39 of late and returned W0-D1-L7 from their last eight home outings since before Christmas.
Straddling lockdown, Middlesbrough 2.245/4 have recorded back-to-back wins on the road for the second time since Boxing Day with Boro picking up W4-D1-L3 on their travels during that seven-game sequence. The visitors have produced their best results against the bottom-half, returning W8-D6-L4 across all venues against the Championship's lesser lights.
Boro backed in vital six-pointer
Hull have been nilled in six of their 13 winless games since the departures of Bowen and Grosicky with Tigers firing blanks in five of their most recent seven outings at the KCOM Stadium. But Over 2.5 Goals 2.1411/10 backers have still rejoiced with the Humbersiders' rotten defensive record ensuring eight of their past 11 matches have featured at least three goals.
For the majority of the campaign, Middlesbrough have appeared anaemic in the final-third. Warnock's change in approach should give Boro the required ballast in forward areas while their organised outlook will provide the platform to pick up at least a point in this vital six-pointer. Considering the circumstances, a goal-heavy game looks unlikely.
With that in mind, it may pay to head to Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market where Middlesbrough Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals is available to support at an appealing 1.75. We'll profit should the visitors win 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 or 2-1, as well as from 0-0 and 1-1 correct scores on Thursday evening.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 147.00 pts
Returned: 167.67 pts
P/L: +20.67 pts