Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough welcome interim manager Dean Holden’s Bristol City to the Riverside Saturday, as a popular fan-manager rivalry reignites once more. (K.O 3pm)
The experienced gaffers’ side face a battle for survival in the Championship but have now picked up two crucial wins in his first four matches, pulling themselves up to 18th and two points clear of the trapdoor.
City fans and Warnock love to loathe each other’s company, with the boss working wonders at rivals Cardiff before he was subsequently sacked following a first home loss in the Severnside derby for nearly 20 years.
The visitors discovered new-found luck under their temporary head-coach too, as they defeated Hull 2-1 at Ashton Gate last time out - their first game without Lee Johnson for four-and-a-half-years.
The Robins’ victory put an end to a nine-game winless run and streak of four consecutive losses, but with only four games remaining they’re still six points off the play-offs sitting in 12th.
They rescued a late 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture at the start of the season at BS3, after The Boro had staged a second-half comeback and nearly snatched all three points through Britt Assombalonga.
City will have fond memories of playing in this stadium though, only losing one of seven games throughout the entirety of the last decade, including a 1-0 victory most recently in ‘18/19.
Although it will seem as though little more than pride is on the line for the City players, it can be guaranteed that neither side will be keen on letting the other get one over.
Top Championship goalscorers
Middlesbrough: Ashley Fletcher (10) - The former Manchester United and England academy product cost Boro £6.5m in July 2017, with the club now starting to see some return on the investment.
He bagged a late pen last time out during their 2-0 win at The Den, as well as getting the opener in Warnock’s first game, a 2-0 victory over Stoke.
Bristol City: Famara Diedhiou (11) - The Senegalese international scored the vital opener last time out with a tidy instinctive finish from inside the area, following a delightful assist from Jamie Paterson.
He’s scored 13 goals in both of his first two seasons at City, and with four games remaining of this year’s term, it looks likely that he could end up on a grand total of 13 yet again - is that unlucky?
Player to watch: Jamie Paterson - while it’s pretty likely that if Middlesbrough hit the net it will come through Fletcher and Assombalonga, with City it seems to be much harder to predict exactly who’s going to influence.
Last time out, Paterson’s quick-thinking pass enabled Diedhiou to finish well for the opener, before he slammed in a ridiculous free-kick himself to double his sides advantage.
The attacking midfielder has always struggled with finding consistency throughout his career but finds moments of magic regularly enough that he’s certainly worth noting.
Whether that be directly through a set-piece, a well-timed long-ball forward or unlocking the defence via a disguised pass, Paterson has the creativity to make all the difference should he harness it.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-2 Bristol City
Match Preview written by Alfie House.