Relief for Strachan: Match Review

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Middlesbrough made light of their poor home form as they registered a 2-1 victory over fellow play-off hopefuls Barnsley at the Riverside Stadium.

Only struggling Reading had won fewer home games than Gordon Strachan's side ahead of this Coca-Cola Championship fixture.

But a wonderful first-half display, capped by goals from Chris Killen and Gary O'Neil, set the Teessiders on their way to three points and ensured they leapfrogged their opponents in the table.

Barnsley improved significantly after the interval and reduced their deficit through Hugo Colace's 65th-minute strike.

But Boro held on to record only their second home win since Strachan replaced Gareth Southgate at the helm in October.

Former Celtic striker Scott McDonald made his first appearance for Middlesbrough, with fellow deadline day signing Lee Miller dropping to the bench, while Emanuel Pogatetz replaced the injured David Wheater in one of three other changes from Saturday's 1-1 draw at Ipswich.

Barnsley boss Mark Robins handed a debut to new loan signing Kieran Trippier. The Manchester City youngster started at right-back in place of the suspended Ryan Shotton.

The visitors were the first to threaten, with Filipe Teixeira flicking a volley wide from Emil Hallfredsson's cross.

However, Boro soon got into their stride and McDonald saw a powerful angled drive superbly saved by Luke Steele in the eighth minute, the Barnsley goalkeeper sticking out his right boot to deflect the ball to safety.

The Teessiders went close again 10 minutes later. Killen was sent clear through on goal, but after lobbing the ball over Steele the forward saw his goalbound shot cleared off the line by Trippier.

Middlesbrough were eventually rewarded for their pressure in the 24th minute, Killen prodding home from close range after O'Neil's corner had been flicked on at the near post.

Barnsley saw appeals for a penalty waved away soon after when Colace's cross appeared to strike the arm of Pogatetz.

Darren Moore then headed wide from a Colace free-kick before Boro doubled their lead in the 34th minute.

Barry Robson picked out O'Neil with a delightful through ball and the former England Under-21 skipper composed himself before slotting past the advancing Steele.

O'Neil nearly added a third two minutes before the break, but Steele dived to his left to keep out the midfielder's low strike from the edge of the area.

Jay Rodriguez replaced Anderson de Silva at the start of the second half as the visitors switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

The change provided Barnsley with a greater attacking threat and they pulled back a deserved goal in the 65th minute.

Boro's defence failed to deal with a long throw from the left and Colace was on hand to drill home a low shot from the edge of the area.

Andy Gray had a golden chance to pull the Tykes level five minutes later, but headed tamely at Danny Coyne from Teixeira's cross.

McDonald then fired over for Middlesbrough following a swift counter-attack, before Rodriguez wasted Barnsley's final chance in the 90th minute as he headed wide from Nathan Doyle's cross.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Ipswich Town
Maxi Rodriguez
Bristol City
Nathan Doyle
Gary O'Neil
Manchester City
Jay Rodriguez
Luke Steele
Hugo Colace
Darren Moore
Scott McDonald
Gordon Strachan
Ryan Shotton
Emanuel Pogatetz
Gareth Southgate
David Wheater
Danny Coyne
Andy Gray
Barry Robson

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