Middlesbrough within a point of Championship leaders after Fulham win

Middlesbrough's Adam Reach
Middlesbrough's Adam Reach

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka was thrilled after his side moved to within a point of Sky Bet Championship leaders Norwich with a 2-0 win over Fulham.

After Adam Reach’s opening goal just after the interval, the Cottagers wasted three good chances before Albert Adomah doubled Boro’s lead in the 82nd minute to seal the three points for the hosts.

Karanka’s side are now fifth in the table and they have extended their unbeaten run to six league matches.

“I’m very happy with our position in the table and pleased because our performance was very good,” the Boro boss said.

“We played against a very good team, who are working well with the new manager and will be in a high position at the end of the season.”

The first half was a nervy affair - although Boro did almost take the lead when Adomah hit a post in the 15th minute - but Karanka was delighted with the response of his side after the interval.

He said: “In the first half we didn’t play in the way we are used to playing. We are not comfortable when we don’t have the ball and we were running behind them. In the second half we were more confident when we had the ball and we did well.”

But the Boro boss is refusing to get carried away with his side’s lofty position, given it is only October.

He added: “This team is improving every single day. One point off the top? I want to be in that position at the end of the season - that’s my job.”

Fulham enjoyed some early pressure but it was the home side who nearly took the lead in the 12th minute with a flowing move. Lee Tomlin released Ryan Fredericks down the right and his low cross was flicked off the post by Adomah.

Other than Boro hitting the woodwork the first half was a cagey affair, but it did not take long for the game to spark into life after the break.

Just 35 seconds were on the clock when Tomlin’s attempted over-kick inside the area was flicked past Marcus Bettinelli by Reach.

Reach was inches away from a second two minutes later when Adomah clipped a great ball into the box but the young winger’s header hit the upright.

Boro continued to press and should have doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Grant Leadbitter’s corner was flicked towards goal and Kike’s close-range effort was blocked by Bettinelli.

It was much better stuff by Aitor Karanka’s side, who looked like a different team.

But Fulham were by no means out of it. They continued with a patient approach and it nearly paid off when they forced a corner on the hour.

When Boro failed to clear, Ross McCormack whipped a second ball into the box and Tim Hoogland’s header thumped the crossbar.

It was a big let-off for Boro, and there was another reprieve in the 66th minute when substitute George Williams played a long ball in behind Boro’s sleeping defenders but Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega blazed over from just inside the area with a hasty first-time shot.

The visitors pressed again and should have levelled in the 72nd minute when Lasse Christensen found plenty of space in the area to shoot at goal but Daniel Ayala somehow managed to get a foot to the low shot on the line.

Fulham were getting on top, and forced a free-kick two minutes later, but McCormack’s ambitious effort was punched clear by Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.

But the second came against the tide as Boro hit Fulham on the counter eight minutes from the end.

Adomah started the move and Kike did some great work down the right before playing it back inside for the midfielder to side-foot past Bettinelli and into the bottom corner.

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Fredericks, Ayala, Omeruo, Friend,

Clayton, Leadbitter, Adomah, Tomlin (Vossen 67), Reach (Nsue 90), Garcia (Whitehead 83).

Subs Not Used: Gibson, Luke Williams,Wildschut,Blackman.

Booked: Fredericks.

Goals: Reach 46, Adomah 82.

Fulham: Bettinelli, Hoogland, Bodurov, Burn, Amorebieta (Smith 78), Parker, Christensen, Stafylidis (George Williams 59), Ruiz (Roberts 70), McCormack, Rodallega.

Subs Not Used: Kiraly, Woodrow, Hyndman, Kavanagh.

Booked: Burn.

Att: 16,201

Ref: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)