Middlesbrough inflict more woe on QPR

PUBLISHED: 17:58 23 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:58 23 February 2019

Steve McClaren manager of QPR during Queens Park Rangers vs Birmingham City, Sky Bet EFL Championship Football at Loftus Road Stadium on 9th February 2019

Steve McClaren manager of QPR during Queens Park Rangers vs Birmingham City, Sky Bet EFL Championship Football at Loftus Road Stadium on 9th February 2019

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Sky Bet Championship: Middlesbrough 2 (Howson 2, Fletcher 32) Queens Park Rangers 0

Middlesbrough strengthened their grip on a play-off place in the Championship by piling more misery on Queens Park Rangers with a 2-0 victory.

Goals from Jonny Howson and Ashley Fletcher got Boro on course for three points in the first half and Steve McClaren’s Rangers never looked like preventing a seventh straight defeat at his former club.

That is now an unwanted club record for QPR, who should be just thankful they had a healthy cushion to the relegation zone before this horrible run.

Middlesbrough were desperate to improve a poor record of their own at the Riverside Stadium where they had won just two of their previous 11 matches.

They got off to the perfect start when wing-back Howson, clearly enjoying playing on the right, was rewarded for his attacking mind with the opening goal.

There was just one minute and 50 seconds on the clock when he casually worked his way into the visiting penalty area undetected.

Impressive midfielder Mo Besic spotted him and picked out a lovely diagonal pass which Howson managed to force beyond goalkeeper Joe Lumley, who had left his line, to grab his first since April.

QPR almost levelled straight after but Middlesbrough goalkeeper Darren Randolph did well to turn behind an effort from Eberechi Eze at his near post.

From there on in Middlesbrough took command. There was not much threat posed to Randolph’s goal for the rest of the half and it was no surprise when the men from Teesside extended their advantage.

Besic, who had already gone close himself with an effort that flew inches wide of the upright from distance, was allowed too much freedom in the opposition’s half and he made them pay.

The on-loan Everton midfielder turned and charged towards the box, rolled a pass into the feet of Fletcher unmarked on the left. The £6.5m striker, who had not scored in the league this season, shifted the ball on to his left foot and he crashed a finish inside the top left of Lumley’s near post.

Almost instantly Britt Assombalonga should have added a third, but he was denied by Lumley this time when he was faced with just the goalkeeper to beat as QPR’s five-man defence left too many gaps.

After the restart McClaren put three up front for the second half. QPR were still unable to seriously test Randolph again, even though they did get into some decent positions down the flanks.

Middlesbrough should have made it three with 15 minutes remaining when Assombalonga was denied by Lumley, this time after a cleverly worked move involving Lewis Wing and Stewart Downing in and around the area.

Middlesbrough had already done enough, despite a few long range efforts at both ends and a save from Randolph to deny Nahki Wells before the final whistle.

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