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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
21:30 15th December 2015

Middlesbrough 1 Burnley 0

Burnley fell to only their fourth league defeat of the season as Middlesbrough cemented top spot in the Championship.

Spaniard Emilio Nsue grabbed the only goal of the game in the 54th minute of a tight encounter.

And the Clarets, who had Dean Marney making a first start since he suffered his cruciate injury in February, could not respond to breach a resolute Reds defence that made it seven clean sheets in a row at The Riverside.

Sean Dyche made the one change, with Sam Vokes replaced in the starting line-up by Marney.

Notably, Northern Ireland U19 goalkeeper Conor Mitchell, 19, also replaced Matt Gilks on the bench for his first inclusion in the squad.

Marney started in a slightly advance position that his two central midfield partners.

But it was a bright start from the hosts, pushing Burnley back. And in the ninth minute, following a wave of pressure, Adam Clayton fired a sight-setter wide from outside the box.

Tom Heaton was finally called upon in the 25th minute, with a fabulous point-blank save to deny Nsue. However, the offside flag was already raised and calm was restored.

Clayton was again off-target with a drive from distance as Boro grew ever frustrated at the yellow wall working hard to deny them space and time.

But Burnley suddenly spring to life as the half hour approached. Marney found Darikwa with a peach of a pass and when the full back cut the ball back David Jones saw his daisy-cutter deflected to safety off a Boro boot.

And nine minutes from half time, with the hosts down to 10 men as Diego Fabbrini was refused re-entry after having a change of boots, the Clarets came even closer.

George Boyd picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and went for the near post, where Dimi Konstantopoulos did well to parry for a corner in the last action of the half.

Finally though, the deadlock was broken nine minutes after the break. Close build-up play down the right carved out the opening and from the low delivery, Nsue slotted neatly past Heaton at the near post.

There was an immediate response and when the Clarets won possession in the hosts’ half, Marney was cleaned out by Daniel Ayala as he fed the ball to Arfield, whose side-footed effort from 18 yards was too near to Konstantopoulos.

As the game opened up, Downing forced a fine tip over from Heaton with a fierce, rising 25-yard drive and the Clarets stopper saved well from George Friend’s acrobatic effort.

Sam Vokes, Michael Kightly and, latterly, Rouwen Hennings were thrown into the battle as the Clarets looked for a lifeline.

But despite a late flurry of pressure from the Clarets, it was Boro who came closest to sealing it as the clock ran down.

First, substitute Chris Stuani poked the ball past last man Heaton, but could only find the side netting as the angle narrowed, then with the last kick of the game Heaton again denied sub Albert Adomah.

BURNLEY: Heaton, Mee, Duff, Keane, Darikwa (Hennings 86), Boyd (Kightly 76), Marney, Barton, Jones (Vokes 71), Arfield, Gray.
Subs: Mitchell, Lowton, Taylor, Ward.


Booked: Jones 5, Mee 50

MIDDLESBROUGH: Konstantopoulos, Kike (Stuani 76), Fabbrini (Leadbitter 65), Friend, Downing, Kalas, Ayala, Forshaw, Gibson, Nsue, Clayton.
Subs: Mejias, De Pena, Amorebieta, Zuculini

Booked: Ayala 61

Ref: G ELTRINGHAM

Att: 19,966 (646)