Latics head to North Yorkshire hoping to record fifth successive away win.
- Malky Mackay’s side could move within two points of safety with victory.
- Hosts, who are currently a point off the top, have sights set on automatic promotion.
- Mackay’s first game in charge was 1-1 draw with Boro at the DW Stadium.
It is crunch time now in the Sky Bet Championship as the 2014-15-season enters its final month – a period of seven games – starting with an Easter Weekend double against Middlesbrough and Derby County.
Latics head to the Riverside Stadium on Good Friday on the back of four consecutive wins away from home but, like their visit to Norwich City in March, the odds are heavily stacked against them with Middlesbrough on the back of eight victories out of their last nine on their own patch.
Tickets are available from the DW Stadium Ticket Office until 5pm today whilst supporters can also pay of the day at the Riverside, for more details click here.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan Athletic 1 – 1 Middlesbrough
Saturday 22nd November 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Malky Mackay’s first game in charge of Latics ended with the spoils shared as substitute Patrick Bamford cancelled out Shaun Maloney’s first-half free-kick.
Scotland international Maloney gave Latics the lead with a 25-yard free-kick on 24 minutes after he’d narrowly fired over from a similar position earlier in the half.
Bamford levelled for the visitors after being on the pitch for less than two minutes as he finished coolly past Scott Carson after a neat one-two.
MIDDLESBROUGH IN 2014-15 SO FAR
Many would say that Middlesbrough have done the hard part, as they lie third in the Sky Bet Championship and well in the race for promotion to the Premier League heading into the final month of the campaign.
Aitor Karanka and his side will, however, know there is a long way to go with all-but-one of their final seven league games against sides with something to play for.
With all due respect to Brighton, who Boro meet on the final day, their nine-point gap above the drop-zone currently should mean that, barring a terrible run in their next six games, they’ll be safe come the trip to Teesside on the final day in May.
Boro’s other six games see clashes with three teams in the survival battle - Latics, Rotherham United and Fulham – and three in the promotion race in Watford, Wolves and Norwich City.
The fact four of their remaining fixtures are on their own patch will keep Boro in good spirits as their record currently reads 12 wins, four draws and just three defeats at the Riverside in the Championship.
No side has conceded fewer at home in the league than Karanka’s side with their goal breached on just 11 occasions at home and their 16 clean sheets in 39 games is also a league high.
Boro have built their success on maintaining the foundations of their side from the 2013-14 season and adding to it with players who have made an immediate impact.
Kike, Adam Clayton and Emilio Nsue were all permanent summer arrivals who have been regular features this term whilst loan signings Patrick Bamford and Jelle Vossen have proved more than adequate forward replacements for Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Emnes who both moved to the Premier League.
Boro have lost three of their last four on the road but they haven’t lost back-to-back games all season, something Latics will be hoping to change on Good Friday.
MAN TO WATCH – PATRICK BAMFORD
Loan spells with MK Dons, Derby County and now Middlesbrough have established Chelsea youngster Patrick Bamford as one of the most prolific strikers for his age in the country.
At just 21, Bamford has gone from strength-to-strength since notching 21 goals in 44 games during two loan spells at Stadium:mk between November 2012 and January 2014.
That form presented the now England U21 international with the opportunity of a five-month stay at Derby County at the end of the 2013-14 campaign and his eight goals in 23 appearances helped the Rams reach the Play-Offs of the Sky Bet Championship final.
Aitor Karanka used his friendship with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho to attract Bamford to the Riverside and the move has worked well for both parties with Bamford’s 16 goals in all competitions further increasing the former Nottingham Forest youngster’s stock.