AFTER encountering a pumped-up side fighting to achieve their season’s goals on Good Friday, Middlesbrough will face another battle – albeit of a totally different variety – this afternoon.
Boro, beaten by Championship leaders Wolves in a fractious meeting on Teesside in the first part of their Easter programme, face a Burton side scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table, with Tony Pulis not expecting a straightforward afternoon.
I know Nigel (Clough) and he will have his players up and they will be fighting for their lives, so it will be a tough gameMiddlesbrough boss, Tony Pulis
It certainly was not on the Teessiders’ maiden visit to the Pirelli Stadium, when the Brewers, then in League Two, secured an FA Cup shock in a 2-1 third-round victory in January, 2011, thanks to a late brace from Shaun Harrad.
This afternoon represents Boro’s first league trip to this quarter of Staffordshire, with the need to react at the first available juncture in what is becoming an intense battle for two play-off positions being imperative.
Manager Pulis said: “We have a very, very important game at Burton. It is a different game at a small ground. I know Nigel (Clough) and he will have his players up and they will be fighting for their lives, so it will be a tough game for us.”
At a tight arena and with the hosts no doubt alive to the attacking threats of Adama Traore, Pulis is likely to be conscious that Boro’s influential winger could well be singled out for particular attention too today.
He added: “We have got a situation at this football club where every game we play in now when Adama gets the ball and starts running at people, they just bring him down.
“That has been going on for a while.”
Last six games: Burton LLDLLL; Middlesbrough DWWWDL.
Referee: D Coote (West Yorkshire).
Last time: Burton 1 Middlesbrough 2, August 25, 2015; Capital One Cup.