Woodgate's half-time decision backfires as Middlesbrough are held by Hull: Three things we learnt

Middlesbrough moved out of the Championship relegation zone after a 2-2 draw with Hull City at the Riverside – but Jonathan Woodgate’s side were left wondering what might have been.

Sunday, 24th November 2019, 2:00 pm
Hull's Jackson Irvine and Boro's Jonny Howson battle for possession.
Hull's Jackson Irvine and Boro's Jonny Howson battle for possession.

After a convincing first-half display, which saw Marcus Tavernier and Ashley Fletcher put Boro 2-0 up, the Teessiders were reduced to 10 men when Marin Johnson was shown a straight red card in the 37th minute.

The challenge put Boro on the back foot in the second half when Jarrod Bowen scored twice to rescue a point for the Tigers.

Here’s what we learnt from the game:

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Poor discipline proves costly

Boro were in full control until the 37th minute and arguably produced their best first-half performance of the season.

The hosts looked comfortable out of possession and caused problems going forward, with Paddy McNair and Marcus Tavernier supplying Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga up front.

Yet Johnson’s red card in the 37th minute altered the course of the game - the Boro man couldn’t have any complaints either after a reckless tackle on Hull’s Eric Lichaj.

Half-time decision backfires

With Boro 2-0 up at half-time, Boro needed to make a change at half-time following Johnson’s dismissal.

Yet Woodgate’s decision to move Marcus Tavernier to left-back seemed a strange one, especially when defenders Hayden Coulson and Marc Bola were on the bench.

Adam Clayton replaced Fletcher at the break as Boro switched to a 4-4-1 formation with McNair on the left and Anfernee Dijksteel on the right.

The move invited pressure as the hosts sat incredibly deep and struggled to break free. Eventually, their defence cracked.

Attacking partnership starting to click again

Fletcher and Assombalonga have experienced mixed starts to the campaign and both looked desperately short of confidence just a couple of weeks ago.

The forward duo were a handful at QPR before the international break, though, and it was the same again in the first half here.

Boro’s frontmen combined well throughout the opening 45 minutes and were rewarded after a neat move saw Fletcher double the hosts’ lead.

It was a shame that Johnson’s red card put the Teessiders on the back foot in the second half and meant Fletcher was sacrificed at the break.