Date: 8th April 2018 at 10:44am
Written by: Vital Boro

Two first-half goals were enough for Middlesbrough to consolidate their play-off position with a 2-0 victory against Nottingham Forest at the Riverside.

Former Forest defender Daniel Ayala gave them an early lead on seven minutes that was improved by Stewart Downing ahead of the interval.

The Teessiders had earlier decided upon a single change with Ryan Shotton replacing Martin Cranie, while Brazilian defender Fabio received a recall to the bench after injury.

Former Boro chief Aitor Karanka was making his first return to the Riverside but witnessed his team immediately in arrears as Ayala turned sharply and fired crisply beyond goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.

Downing soon threatened another but struck narrowly wide of the target, until driving low through a crowded area after Ayala had initially flicked on at a corner

Ben Osborn then cleared George Friend’s header off the line from another corner; although the visitors pushed either side of the interval and Boro keeper Darren Randolph was required to save Lee Tomlin’s low drive.

Goalscorer Ayala was next too high following a corner delivered towards the other end, while Randolph denied Joe Lolley’s edge-of-the-box reply after Friend had already blocked well.

Ex-Forest striker Patrick Bamford later curled wide before substitute Britt Assombalonga similarly threatened further reward against his former club.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Howson, Besic (Clayton 63), Leadbitter, Traore (Assombalonga 81), Bamford (Cranie 89), Downing

subs (unused): Konstantopoulos, Fabio, Fry, Harrison

Goals: Ayala (7), Downing (31)

Nottingham Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Pereira Figueiredo, Fox, Osborn, Watson, Colback, Lolley, Tomlin, Dowell (McKay 59), Vellios (Brereton 59)

subs (Unused): Lichaj, Mancienne, Guedioura, Bridcutt, Kapino

Ref: K. Stroud

Att: 25,812