Middlesbrough strikers tame Lions

Kike celebrates his goal for Boro
Kike celebrates his goal for Boro

BORO boss Aitor Karanka was beaming after seeing his side go top of the Championship again – and two of his strikers getting on the scoresheet.

“It’s very important for our strikers to be scoring goals,” he said.

Strikers are different players. They need to score goals to be confident, but we’ve scored at key moments in the game and I’m very happy for them.

“I look at other teams at the top of the table and their strikers have 45 goals between them. We have 25, but I’m not concerned because they’re quality.

“Strikers are different players. They need to score goals to be confident, but we’ve scored at key moments in the game and I’m very happy for them.

“It was a difficult game. The first 15 minutes we could feel the pressure but then we’ve scored two goals in 10 minutes which has helped.

“I’m very pleased because we have three more points and one less game to go. Being top of the table doesn’t matter to me.”

Millwall boss Ian Holloway admitted he is unpopular with Millwall supporters after his side crashed to their fourth defeat in five.

Lions fans have turned on the under-fire boss after their form has seen them slide into serious relegation danger.

Holloway said: “It doesn’t help when you’re not popular with the fans, it puts extra pressure on people.

“I’m sure I’ll be talking to the chairman over the next few days and we’ll have to see where we are.

“I couldn’t give it any more. I couldn’t try any harder than I am at the minute and we just can’t buy a goal.

“I would hope to continue but if other people don’t then that’s their decision..”

Millwall had looked the brighter of the two sides early on, but it was Boro who were more dangerous on the break.

Kike fluffed a great chance in the 15th minute when Adam Clayton curled a ball into the box only for the striker to head straight at David Forde.

The Lions almost grabbed the opener just seconds later after Boro’s defence fell asleep.

Lee Gregory latched onto a ball over the top but Dimi Konstantopoulos denied the striker with his legs.

Boro had three bites at the cherry after 20 minutes, but still failed to open the scoring. Kike and Albert Adomah both had shots blocked before Lee Tomlin’s goal-bound effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by Alan Dunne.

The game really opened up as the visitors continued to press and, when Boro failed to clear a corner, Joss Hooiveld had time to turn and shoot but it was easy enough for Konstantopoulos to gather.

The hosts got their opener in the 26th minute, though, with a neat build-up and well-taken finish. Tomlin played in Adomah, who pulled it back for Kike and he let the ball roll to Patrick Bamford, who coolly hammered it into Forde’s top-right corner.

Karanka’s men doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when Clayton’s long ball found Bamford in the box and he did well to lay off for Kike, who tried his best to miss but the ball bounced over Forde’s head and in.

They went close to a third shortly after half-time when Adomah raced down the left wing before over-hitting his cross for Grant Leadbitter and the Boro skipper headed over.

Tomlin was left fuming with Kike on the hour when the Spaniard opted to shoot instead of passing.

Adomah went close to getting the third when Leadbitter picked him out with a perfect set-piece into the box but Forde did well to hold the winger’s strong shot.

Boro again went close in the 73rd minute when George Friend did well down the left before cutting inside and crossing across the face of goal, but it was just too strong for Kike.

The third goal finally arrived five minutes later after Friend’s shot was deflected into Vossen’s path and he drilled past Forde.

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Fredericks, Kalas, Gibson, Friend, Leadbitter (Forshaw 82), Clayton, Adomah, Tomlin (Vossen 74), Bamford (Wildschut 83), Kike. Subs Not Used: Ripley, Whitehead, Reach, Woodgate. Goals: Bamford 26, Kike 30, Vossen 78.

Millwall: Forde, Abdou, Dunne, Hooiveld, Harding, Tonge (O’Brien 80), Williams (Upson 66), Woolford, Fabbrini, Taylor-Fletcher, Gregory (Fuller 66). Subs Not Used: Beevers, Martinez, Nelson, King. Booked: Abdou.

Att: 16,078 Ref: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire).