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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Middlesbrough edge Sunderland in Tees-Wear derby

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Middlesbrough began their climb away from the Championship relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Riverside Stadium.

Chris Wilder’s side had dropped into the bottom three after just one win from the opening seven, but Riley McGree’s strike after 25 minutes was enough to seal another and see Boro claim the bragging rights in the first Tees-Wear derby since February 2018.

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Riley McGree put Middlesbrough ahead midway through the first half against Sunderland

They climb up to 17th as a result, with Sunderland remaining in eighth, two points outside the top six with eight games played.

How Middlesbrough took the bragging rights at the Riverside

With Middlesbrough lingering at the wrong end of the table, they displayed a real early intensity that put Sunderland on the back foot from the off.

The Black Cats were forced a late system change due to an injury to top scorer Ross Stewart in the warm-up, yet it was lone frontman Ellis Simms who almost set up the opener, with his dangerous square ball lifted over the bar by Alex Pritchard from just inside the box.

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Riley McGree comes up with a superb touch and finish to put Middlesbrough 1-0 up in their derby against Sunderland

Before long, Isaiah Jones began to cause problems with his intelligent pull-backs from the right, but it was, in fact, left wing-back Ryan Giles that played a key role in the game’s only goal.

The Wolves loanee delivered a wicked ball in, which McGree expertly took away from Danny Batth, before sweeping the ball home with some inadvertent help from Sunderland’s Luke O’Nien.

In the final minute of first-half stoppage time, Sunderland were denied a penalty when Patrick Roberts went over in the box under the challenge of Jonny Howson. Darren Bond ignored appeals, with replays showing any contact with the forward was made outside the box.

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Following his side’s victory over Sunderland, Middlesbrough’s Isaiah Jones says that their win was ‘much needed’

The visitors began to take control of possession and get the ball into dangerous areas after the break, but it was a fleeting revival that failed to produce an equaliser, with Jack Clarke disappointing when cutting in off the left.

With Boro having conceded twice in second-half stoppage time already this season, they needed to hold firm in the closing stages, but aside from an overcooked effort from Simms from a tight angle, there was little effort required.

Man of the match – Isaiah Jones

Danny Gabbidon on Sky Sports Football:

“He was involved in a key battle with Jack Clarke down the right-hand side and he did a fantastic job. In the first half, we saw the attacking side of his game; the second half he was asked to do things slightly differently with a fair bit of defending. It really was an all-action performance from him.”

What the managers said…

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Following his side’s victory over Sunderland, Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder says that his side feels ‘a little bit better about ourselves’.

Middlesbrough’s Chris Wilder: “I’m knackered after that, I think we all are! But we got there in the end. If you look at our eight performances so far, in terms of box-to-box, that was possibly not one of our best. Our objective today had to be a clean sheet and that gave us an opportunity to go and get that win.

“It was always going to be a tight game. I’ve had a couple of promotions myself and when you come up, you play with that fearless approach and nobody really expects you to do anything in the league above, so you have that freedom. We never really controlled any part of the game, but what we did control was the ball getting kept out of the back of the net.”

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Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray says that the loss of talisman Ross Stewart ‘knocked the stuffing’ out of his side following their defeat to Middlesbrough

Sunderland’s Tony Mowbray: “I thought we had some brilliant opportunities – Pritchard had an amazing chance pretty early on – but I think you have to accept it’s a derby game that was end-to-end. We lost our talisman {Stewart) before kick-off and I think it knocked the stuffing out of us a little bit.

“I’m still learning about their characters and, at half-time, I talked about needing more personality on the pitch from some of the young players. We could easily have come away with something tonight, but it’s a derby game and when the main goal threat wasn’t on the pitch, that completely changed how we prepared.”

What’s next?

Both teams are back in action at 3pm on Saturday September 10. Middlesbrough travel to Bloomfield Road to take on Blackpool, while Sunderland welcome Millwall to the Stadium of Light.

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