Middlesbrough lose more ground

Middlesbrough's play-off challenge was dealt a blow as they lost 1-0 to Birmingham City at the Riverside Stadium in the Championship on Saturday.

Last Updated: 16/03/13 at 17:44 Post Comment

Nikola Zigic: Scored the winner

Nikola Zigic: Scored the winner

Nikola Zigic converted Shane Ferguson's cross from close range to clinch Blues' first-ever points at the Riverside and their first victory on Boro soil in 14 attempts stretching back to a 1980 success at Ayresome Park.

Boro - playing in front of their lowest league attendance since October, just 14,348 - are now five points off the play-off places while they have lost four of their last five and won just one of their last seven.

Blues had a start to forget after making a hash of the kick-off before losing Jonathan Spector to injury after just four minutes, Keith Fahey stepping in for his first appearance since October having been on lengthy compassionate leave.

But the visitors soon settled into what was a low-key start to proceedings and began to look the more threatening against a Boro side obviously lacking confidence, Ravel Morrison and Wes Thomas shooting narrowly wide.

Boro grew in stature and enjoyed a solid period of pressure in which Scott McDonald fired wide from 12 yards but, all in all, the game still lacked spark.

Both sides were looking increasingly dangerous as the first half wore on - Sammy Ameobi firing straight at Jack Butland before McDonald blazed over, while Jason Steele saved from Morrison - but it remained goalless at the break.

Middlesbrough failed to really test Butland during a string of corners at the start of the second half. But the England goalkeeper had to be alert in the 57th minute to deny McDonald, who had been sent clear by a routine long ball.

The encounter took on an increased tempo after the break, largely due to greater urgency from the hosts, with substitute Ishmael Miller heading just wide before Nathan Redmond went just as close for Birmingham with a long-range effort.

Butland was again on call to palm away an effort from Reach before Morrison saw his shot parried away.

But the game's winning goal finally arrived nine minutes from time, Wade Elliott finding Ferguson who sent in a low cross which was converted by Zigic, who just got ahead of George Friend, to clinch City's first league double over Boro in 32 years.

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2 Burnley 44 34 89
3 Derby 44 30 81
4 QPR 44 15 76
5 Wigan 43 15 70
6 Reading 44 12 67
7 Brighton 44 12 66
8 N Forest 44 7 65
9 Ipswich 44 6 65
10 Blackburn 44 5 64
11 Bournemth 44 -1 63
12 Watford 43 17 60
13 Middlesbro' 44 7 58
14 Bolton 44 -3 55
15 Sheff Wed 44 1 53
16 Leeds 44 -10 53
17 Huddersfld 44 -8 50
18 Charlton 43 -23 45
19 Doncaster 44 -28 44
20 Millwall 44 -29 44
21 Birmingham 43 -13 43
22 Blackpool 44 -27 43
23 Barnsley 44 -30 39
24 Yeovil 44 -26 37

Updated Wed, 23 Apr 2014

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