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First Team News

A Match To Remember: Middlesbrough

15 March 2021

Almost two years to the day, on a Tuesday night at the Riverside, Paul Gallagher and Jayden Stockley saw the Lilywhites come from behind to pick up their first league win at the Teesside stadium.

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However, then Boro boss Tony Pulis was livid, saying the 'shocking decision' to send off Daniel Ayala cost his side victory.

The Lilywhites came from a goal down to win, after defender Ayala's 60th-minute red card for a foul on Brandon Barker, when the winger looked to be going clean through on goal.

A positive first half display saw the hosts twice hit the post before Ashley Fletcher gave them a 32nd-minute lead as his shot deflected off Jordan Storey and past Declan Rudd.

But Gallagher levelled from the free-kick that came from Ayala's red card before substitute Stockley headed North End to victory with nine minutes left.

Ayala's red card turned the game on its head - with the Boro bench furious at the decision to send him off for a firm challenge.

"I think it's a poor decision," Pulis said after the match. "He's miles away from it and he's got people between him an the ball. How he makes that decision, a game-changing decision, from where he is, is just astonishing for me.

"In my opinion he's made a shocking decision tonight."

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Boro could have been further ahead before half-time as Ayala headed against the post from a sixth-minute corner, before John Mikel Obi struck the upright five minutes later.

Rudd made two smart saves in the final three minutes of the half as Jonny Howson and Fletcher went close to doubling the hosts' lead.

But North End threatened their opponents were reduced to ten-men, as Ben Pearson and Barker also had chances to score.

Boro stayed fifth in the Championship, but then only had just a three-point buffer between them and Bristol City in seventh place, while Alex Neil's side moved up to ninth, four points behind their hosts.

Alex said afterwards: "The game will be spoken about for the sending-off, because it does change the game, it puts it in our favour.

"The issue you've always got with the sending-off is what is the rule nowadays?

"If the rule is if you win the ball it's not a sending-off, then the lad certainly won the ball. If the rule is dependent on how quickly you go into the ball, how high your foot is and a whole host of other things, then you could understand why it might be a sending-off.

"If I was Middlesbrough I'd be really disappointed, but naturally for us I'm pleased."

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Middlesbrought line-up: Randolph, Shotton, Flint, Ayala, Howson, Mikel (Tavernier, 85), Besic (Hugill, 77), Friend, Wing, Fletcher (Fry, 64), Assombalonga. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Clayton, Downing, Saville.

PNE line-up: Rudd, Storey, Davies, Hughes, Browne (Rafferty, 22), Johnson, Pearson, Gallagher (Stockley, 75), Earl (Barker, 46), Nmecha, Maguire. Subs not used: Crowe, Ginnelly, Ledson, Huntington.

Referee: Mr Keith Stroud

Attendance: 21,088

The game will be live on iFollow PNE from approximately 6.30pm on Tuesday night, with Guy Clarke joined in the Riverside commentary box by former North End defender Michael Jackson; click here now to sign up for an iFollow PNE match pass for £10.


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