In what proved to be a game of own goals on Saturday, Middlesbrough came from behind to earn a vital draw against Derby County at the Riverside Stadium.
Throughout the opening 45 minutes, Derby were much the better side as they enjoyed 80% possession in the first 20 minutes. Consequently, when they went ahead in the 19th minute thanks to a comical own goal by George Friend, nobody could complain their lead was undeserved.
In the 2nd half, Middlesbrough came out with a point to prove, with the Rams sitting back trying to protect their lead. Rudy Gestede missed a glorious chance before another own goal – this time by Jayden Bogle – earned a point for the home side.
However, while Middlesbrough were able to earn a vital point – one which sent them to the top of the Championship, albeit not for long – they know they have to raise their game if they are to stand a chance against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
For, while Crystal Palace haven’t done well in the Premier League so far this season – they sit at a lowly 14th after 10 games – their performance at the weekend should have made Tony Pulis concerned.
Facing an Arsenal side on a 10-game winning run, the Eagles twice came from behind to earn a point. Therefore, the Premier League side would be deservedly coming into this game as the favourites.
Pulis to field a weakened team?
Speaking after the game at the weekend, Tony Pulis said he’d make a lot of changes against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Provided he comes true on his promise, the likes of Nathan Wood, Danny Batth, Grand Leadbitter and Marcus Travernier will get to play a big role against the Eagles.
Certainly, the prospect of a last 8 tie in the Cup will appeal to Pulis, but he is keeping his focus on the Championship race for now. And with 12 points separating the leaders Sheffield Wednesday from 12th placed Blackburn Rovers, no one could complain about his approach either.
In the first round of this competition, Boro overcame Notts County on penalties, after which they defeated Rochdale 2-1 in the 2nd round. Their last game in the competition against Preston North End also went to penalties as the match finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.