Middlesbrough pile the pressure on Aston Villa and Bristol City - but it comes at a cost

Middlesbrough are 'concerned' over Dani Ayala's injury picked up in the win over Hull City
Middlesbrough are 'concerned' over Dani Ayala's injury picked up in the win over Hull City

Middlesbrough kept their Championship play-off hopes alive after a 1-0 win over rivals Hull City.

Britt Assombalonga's first-half strike proved enough for the Teessiders, who were forced to endure some late pressure from their play-off chasing visitors.

Having lost six of their last seven in the league, victory was vital for Boro if they were to keep the pressure on Aston Villa and Bristol City - who currently occupy the final two spots in the top six.

And having weathered an early storm - which saw Darren Randolph deny Kamil Grosicki's close range header - they took the lead on 25 minutes as Assombalonga swept home from the in-form Ashley Fletcher's low cross.

It could have been two moments later, but Saville was unable to convert from Fletcher's knock-down.

The same two players forced good saves out of Hull stopper David Marshall after the break, before the Tigers began to create some chances of their own.

Fraizer Campbell nodded a golden opportunity just wide, before Grosicki saw a goal-bounded effort cleared off the line by Jon Obi Mikel.

And while victory takes Boro within a point of the play-offs - it came at a cost.

Influential defender Dani Ayala was withdrawn after suffering an injury just past the hour mark - and Pulis has admitted the club are 'concerned' about the outcome.

“We're pretty concerned with Dani,” he said.

“He's gone off to hospital so we'll see what the situation is.

“It's his knee. I think it was the landing not the challenge.

"We thought we were well set with defenders then Stoke came in and took Danny [Batth].

“When you look at it now... but we have to get on with it.

“The gods haven't been kind to us in respect of injuries we've had recently.”