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Match Ratings: Middlesbrough 3 Preston 1
1-0: Tomlin (51, curled a precise free-kick past a motionless Jones from 22 yards out)
1-1: Hugill (54, headed home at the back post after King had flicked on Hayhurst’s cross)
2-1: Clarke (og, 57, turned Adomah’s cross into his own net under pressure from Fewster at the front post)
3-1: Tomlin (66, dribbled past two defenders and guided home a precise side-footed finish from 18 yards)
Bookings: Adomah (31, foul), Kilkenny (39, foul), Ayala (43, foul), Clayton (70, foul)
Referee: Mark Haywood (Leeds) – Might have awarded Fewster a penalty at the start of the second half, but generally controlled things well 6
Konstantopoulos: Was much more assured than Mejias under the aerial ball, but still caused a couple of flutters claiming crosses 6
Damia: Was generally solid down the right-hand side, although his attacking forays were fairly limited 6
Ayala: Won some important defensive headers and threatened to cause problems in the opposition box 6
Hines: Looks more comfortable at centre-half than at full-back and won most of his physical battles 6
Husband: Defensively secure throughout, but doesn’t attack as frequently or as effectively as Friend 6
Whitehead: Slowed things up in the first half and doesn’t always help against fairly limited opposition 5
Clayton: Started fairly slowly, but improved markedly in the second half as he began to push forward more 7
Nsue: Showed some decent touches and flashed a low shot wide of the post before injury forced him off just before the break 6
TOMLIN: Made the difference with a wonderful curled free-kick and a superb dribble that led to his second goal 8
Adomah: Didn’t look comfortable on the left, but made a major difference when switched to the right and set up Boro’s second goal 7
Fewster: His movement was a major factor in Clarke’s own goal, but his lack of physical power was an issue 6
Reach (for Nsue, 41): His pace and energy down the left-hand made a difference and he contributed to an improved second-half display 7
Ledesma (for Tomlin, 68): Felt his way back into things as he returned from injury but will improve for the appearance 5
Kike (for Adomah, 77)
(not used): Mejias (gk), Friend, Omeruo, Leadbitter.
Preston (4-5-1): Jones 6; Wiseman 6, Clarke 6, King 5, B Davies 5; Hayhurst 6, Welsh 5 (Brownhill 63, 5), Kilkenny 4, Browne 5, Laird 5 (Little 77); HUGILL 6 (K Davies 68, 5).
Subs (not used): Stuckmann (gk), Garner, Woods, Gallagher.
Man Of The Match: LEE TOMLIN – The Boro attacker settled a match that appeared to be going nowhere with two second-half moments of magic.
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