Tim Knowles on 19 October 2018
Middlesbrough moved to the top of the Championship after a rare moment of quality and a calamitous error within six second-half minutes gave them the points at Hillsborough.
Mo Besic, on loan at the Riverside from Everton and the game’s outstanding performer, scored one and assisted the other, but Wednesday’s Tom Lees was the true source of what proved the decisive second goal.
Tony Pulis’s side made a bright start, pressing the Wednesday defenders in the final third, but it was the home side who fashioned the first chance when Barry Bannan clipped a left-wing cross on to the head of the former Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Reach, whose effort brushed the crossbar.
While the visitors continued to dominate territory and possession, they were creating little and there was just a minute of the first half remaining when the first shot on target arrived, Wednesday’s goalkeeper, Cameron Dawson, easily fielding Besic’s effort.
Middlesbrough began the second half with purpose and within four minutes they led through a goal of a quality out of keeping with that seen beforehand. Stewart Downing’s back-heel sent Jonny Howson racing down the right wing and he pulled the ball back to Besic, who drove a low shot across Dawson and into the far corner.
Within minutes the lead was doubled after a dreadful mistake from Lees. The defender’s backpass was woefully short and Besic latched on to the loose ball before drawing Dawson and squaring for Britt Assombalonga to tap into the open goal.
It took Wednesday 68 minutes to muster an effort on target, the substitute Atdhe Nuhiu heading straight at Darren Randolph, but they hauled themselves back into the game in spectacular fashion with eight minutes left.
Bannan floated a free-kick into the visitors’ penalty area and Reach met the partial clearance with a sweetly struck right-foot volley into the left-hand corner from 20 yards. In the fourth minute of stoppage time there was an almighty scramble on the Middlesbrough goalline after a corner but Boro held on to the points.