Late goals from Britt Assobalonga and Djed Spence earned Middlesbrough a 2-0 win over Coventry at the Riverside Stadium.
After a frustrating night for the home side when the Sky Blues had defended strongly after a 4-0 home defeat to Blackburn, Boro finally found the net nine minutes from time to move up to seventh in the Championship.
Assombalonga’s first of the season proved the catalyst for the win to extend Middlesbrough’s unbeaten run to seven matches and Spence wrapped things up with a second deep into stoppage time.
It arrived on a night when Coventry, now without a win in six matches, battled away and were looking at their strongest just as Neil Warnock’s side struck.
Overall Mark Robins’ visitors rarely looked like winning at the Riverside for the first time, despite looking decent in possession at times.
Middlesbrough’s first clear chance arrived in the 18th minute when Marcus Tavernier, operating on the left initially, saw a low cross fumbled by goalkeeper Marko Marosi. The loose ball rolled in the direction of Sam Morsy but the midfielder dragged his effort wide when he should have at least hit the target from 12 yards.
Coventry’s defensive trio of Dominic Hyam, Leo Ostigard and Kyle McFadzean did well to win their fair share of headers to frustrate Patrick Roberts and Assombalonga in the main.
But Coventry were thankful to Marosi being in the right place on half an hour when he stood firm and parried away Tavernier’s drive at goal. The Coventry backline cleared from there.
The nearest Coventry came to scoring in the first half was moments earlier when lone striker Matt Godden worked his way in behind the defence to try to get on the end of Sam McCallum’s dangerous delivery.
After half-time Middlesbrough continued to control more of the play and within four minutes of the restart Jonny Howson had two efforts off target.
Then, after Gustavo Hamer had a shot saved comfortably by Marcus Bettinelli at the other end, Morsy went closer when his strike from the edge of the area deflected off Hamer and bounced off the bar.
There was an effort from Tavernier with the hour approaching when he cut inside and struck into Marosi’s arms at his near post, as the heat started to crank up on Coventry.
As the minutes ticked by, more gaps appeared and the visitors started to look more dangerous themselves on the break. Assombalonga was, though, next to go close when he headed over from close range.
But he made no mistake with nine minutes left. The Middlesbrough captain took a touch and then applied a sweet finish to the right of Marosi to give Warnock’s men the points.
In stoppage time Spence wrapped things up when he knocked the ball beyond Marosi before rolling into the empty net as Coventry pressed for an equaliser.
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