Hull City 2 Middlesbrough 2: The Championship draw that neither Tigers or Boro wanted looks to have nailed their play-off quest

THIS is it now, Liam Rosenior said in his programme notes and never a truer sentence was spoken ahead of this particular clash of old East Coast rivals

Late-season get-togethers of consequence - often with late goals - have arrived between these East Riding and North Riding adversaries over the past decade and here was the latest key meeting.

In the run-in of 2015-16, a season which saw both sides get promoted to the Premier League, Boro edged a meeting with top-two implications on Teesside thanks to a 90th-minute goal from David Nugent.

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The following spring, a 4-2 home win for Hull all but condemned Boro to top-flight relegation and boosted the Tigers’ own fight, while in the Covid-extended campaign of 2019-20, a last-gasp Mallik Wilks goal hauled City out of the relegation zone and left Teesside feeling easy.

Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte Lath squeezes the pall past Hull City keeper Ryan Allsop to Boro ahead in a see-saw Championship contest with Hull City. Picture: Tony Johnson.Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte Lath squeezes the pall past Hull City keeper Ryan Allsop to Boro ahead in a see-saw Championship contest with Hull City. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte Lath squeezes the pall past Hull City keeper Ryan Allsop to Boro ahead in a see-saw Championship contest with Hull City. Picture: Tony Johnson.

In April 2022, a Keane Lewis-Potter goal proved a significant blow in Boro’s play-off quest at the business end of 2021-22.

Here, both clubs, on the fringes of the play-offs but with the door still ajar - with a Tuesday defeat for Coventry City at Southampton and Norwich City’s dropping of two points at Sheffield Wednesday being handy in that regard - knew that only a win would really do if they were to maintain their outside top-six hopes.

Unfortunately, both sides are likely to have now fallen in Grand National week in their quest to stay in the game.

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A draw suited neither and that’s what transpired. It did suit the side currently in sixth in the final play-off slot in Norwich and to a lesser extent Coventry.

Hull’s wait for a first home win since February 3 continued and their form at the MKM Stadium is likely to have nailed their season.

They exhibited elements of swagger and tempo, but find it hard to see things through.

Against a form horse in Boro, now unbeaten in eight and with a sniff of the play-offs beforehand, Hull had the chance to finish off the Teessiders, but relented and didn’t.

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At the venue where Michael Carrick’s side gained their first victory under him in November 2022, there was no encore to savour despite Emmanuel Latte Lath’s sixth goal in eight games handing them the perfect start.

Carrick did have the consolation of seeing Finn Azaz level on 71 minutes after Hull turned the tables to lead 2-1. But victory was the aim. Both sides really pushed desperately late on, but there was no twist.

Hull’s reaction to going behind was impressive, for a side with perceived home ailments and difficulties when going behind.

Their victory in the reverse fixture at Boro was smash and grab. A win here would have been more worthy, but they fatally dropped their guard in the second period.

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Earlier, they equalised when Jaden Philogene’s cross evaded everyone to restore parity on the half hour before Boro’s Achilles heel of overplaying from the back caught them with their pants down in a rewind to those grim events at Stamford Bridge in January.

Hull - and certainly Jean Michael Seri, who profited from a suicidal pass out from Seny Dieng, was not complaining as he dispatched his first goal since the opening day of the 2022-123 campaign.

The kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to traffic issues caused by a broken-down nearby level crossing. In the event, Boro started like a train.

Matt Clarke’s long ball down the left channel found the recalled Lukas Engel. His angled lob was latched by Latte Lath, who showed just why he is in such a rich vein of form.

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He nipped in front of Hull’s defence and cashed in on some questionable positioning to fire the visitors in front adeptly from an acute angle and life was good for the Teessiders.

A shot from Sam Greenwood, deflected for a corner, hinted at a second as Hull’s homesickness reared up early.

The Boro punters were also enjoying themselves. ‘Mauled by the Boro’ was one of their chant. It was as if Hull got wind of it and proceeded to dominate their rivals for the rest of the half with a tigerish performance of intensity and quality. Even swagger at times.

The pressure built with Boro relying on their senior defensive duo of Matt Clarke and Luke Ayling to hold in together.

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The lively Omur fired a warning when his shot flew just wide. Hull did not relent and only a brilliant one-handed reaction save from Dieng to turn away a downward header from ex-Boro target Jacob Greaves prevented the hosts from levelling after Seri’s cross beat Ayling.

Dieng would make headlines before the interval but for entirely different reasons, unfortunately.

Hull were enthused with Philogene starting to fancy it, alongside Carvalho and Ozan Tufan, with the hosts statting to get a grip in midfield and firm control.

The leveller arrived on the half-hour with some inevitability in truth.

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A fiendish cross from the left from Philogene evaded everyone before creeping into the corner of the net.

Tufan - who scored the winner at the Riverside just before Christmas - wheeled away in celebration as if to indicate he got a touch. The replays showed he hadn’t quite.

Ayling then showed his experience to head Omur’s chip off the line, but Hull weren’t finished for the half.

In fairness, Boro were architects of their own downfall, with their predilection to play out from the back at daft junctures again exposed.

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What was more reprehensible was that they were second best and requiring the sanctuary of half-time to regroup.

Hull were wise, though.

Dieng, from a goal kick, passed the ball to Lewis O’Brien in a central position and Seri was breathing down his neck.

The midfielder picked O’Brien’s pocket before smashing in a clinical finish, high into the net. It was a ghastly error from Dieng at that stage of proceedings.

Hull made an interval sub, mindful that Boro would have to commit if they were to keep their play-off pitch on the road. It was sensible, with gaps likely to appear, with ex-Boro loanee Ryan Giles replacing Lewie Coyle.

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Boro’s first chance in a good while would arrive and it was spurned by Latte Lath, of all people with the Ivorian off target with a rebound after Allsop parried Howson’s shot into his path.

At the other end, a last-ditch challenge from Howson stopped rival captain Seri from scoring his second, while equally key defending from Greaves thwarted Engel in the Hull box.

It was an open start to the half, but Hull’s tempo would dip and that aided Boro, who got a bit of a second wind.

The goal they craved arrived on the break when Jones found the unmarked Azaz, whose low shot took a deflection before nestling in the corner. It was a scruffy concession from Hull with Morton getting caught initially.

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Given that both sides really needed a winner to keep their top-six hopes intact, the odds were on an entertaining finish.

Omur had the chance to grab the goal his performance merited, but Dieng redeemed himself with a point-blank save while Jones shot at Allsop at the other end.

It was end to end as both sought to keep their seasons alive. Alas.

Hull City: Allsop; Slater, A Jones, Greaves, Coyle (Giles 45); Morton, Seri (Connolly 89); Omur, Tufan (Sharp 83), Philogene; Carvalho. Unused substitutes: Pandur, McLoughlin, Docherty, Traore, Jacob, Christie.

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Middlesbrough: Dieng; Ayling, van den Berg, Clarke, Engel (Thomas 83); Howson, O’Brien; I Jones, Azaz, Greenwood (Silvera 74); Latte Lath. Unused substitutes: Glover, Barlaser, Gilbert, Bangura, McCabe, Finch.

Referee: G Ward (Surrey).

Attendance: 21,934

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