AFTER suffering last-gasp heartbreak at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night, Middlesbrough are hoping the wheel of fortune turns their way at Ashton Gate today and a repeat of last season’s late show would be just the ticket.
A 94th-minute strike from Danny Ward proved Boro’s undoing in a desperately disappointing 2-1 reverse at the John Smith’s Stadium in midweek, with three other stoppage-time goals in rival Championship games determining the outcome of results.
Manager Tony Mowbray insists that is down not just to the unpredictable state of the second-tier and wafer-thin margins between all but a few teams, but the more high-octane style of football where possession is not considered a virtue as in the Premier League.
Like Town, today’s opponents Bristol City are fighting for their lives towards the foot of the table.
Boro triumphed in a televised game in the West Country last season thanks to a brilliant 90th-minute free-kick from Malaury Martin. Boro, whose top-six hopes took a serious blow at Town, would settle for a re-run, with the Teessiders without an away win since triumphing at Peterborough United in early December.
Mowbray, expected to loan out Adam Reach and Luke Williams next week – with Huddersfield and Rotherham keen – said: “The Championship is not the Premier League, where ball retention can often see the last five minutes of a game out.
“In the Championship, possession changes from one team to the other much more than it ever does in the Premier League.
“It’s much easier for teams to gamble when they are one goal down in this league. If you know the ball is going to switch sides pretty quickly, you might as well throw men forward and have a go.
“Unfortunately, we know only too well there were a lot of late goals on Tuesday, but that is not unusual for this league.”
Mowbray is likely to name a similar side to the one that lost in midweek, with Justin Hoyte and Lukas Jutkiewicz still missing.
Mowbray said: “I have been trying to analyse reasons for why our results have fallen away a bit, and I think because of the injury situation we had around Christmas, we have probably fallen into the trap of bringing in players who are coming in low of fitness or confidence.”