Championship

Unsung Hero: Middlesbrough’s Paddy McNair a driving force from midfield

Unsung Hero: Middlesbrough’s Paddy McNair a driving force from midfield

Middlesbrough won their first game of the season at the fifth time of asking with a 1-0 victory at home to Wigan in last night’s Championship clash.

Britt Assombalonga’s goal from Jonny Howson’s pinpoint cross midway through the first half was enough to give Jonathan Woodgate his first win in charge of ‘Boro, who had to withstand some early pressure before taking the lead against the run of play. [via Sky Sports]

The 26-year-old striker now has his second goal of the season, having also been on target in the opening day 3-3 draw away to Luton.

In a game of few chances, Assombalonga drew a good save from Wigan goalkeeper David Marshall and Ashley Fletcher missed the target with a decent opportunity in the second half before the visitors pressed for a late equaliser to no avail. [via Sky Sports]

The three points have taken Middlesbrough out of the relegation zone and up to 14th ahead of tonight’s Championship action. [via Sky Sports]

While Assombalonga provided the game’s decisive moment and Howson set him up with an excellent delivery, one midfield player made a more subtle contribution to their victory at the Riverside Stadium.

Operating on the right-hand side of a midfield three, Paddy McNair was a quietly effective driving force for Woodgate’s team last night.

He ended the match with three shots, the joint-most of any player on the pitch along with Assombalonga, Fletcher and Wigan’s Kieffer Moore, all of whom are strikers. [via WhoScored.com]

The Northern Ireland international also won three aerial duels against the Latics and made two successful tackles, inferior only to Adam Clayton and Lewis Wing, as well as ending the game with six clearances, the joint-most with Ryan Shotton. [via WhoScored.com]

McNair’s efforts did not go unnoticed by local media, with Joe Nicholson of the Hartlepool Mail saying that he “helped drive the side forward with a couple of forays forward from midfield“.

For Teesside Live, Dominic Shaw said he was the team’s “most influential midfielder“, adding that he was “assured and looks to move things forward” and “was as advanced as Fletcher and Assombalonga on a few occasions“.

McNair did not score and only provided two assists in all of last season, but if he continues to get forward as much as he did last night, he might not have to wait much longer to embellish his dynamic performances with goals and assists.

Middlesbrough fans, were you impressed by McNair’s performance against Wigan? Give us your thoughts by commenting below!

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