It's not proved to be the best of grounds for the Clarets. On both previous visits we've been in front but left with a defeat.
|Michael Duff looks set to return|
Last season and Andre Bikey goal looked to be enough for us but Middlesbrough scored twice to win it. The previous, and our first, visit was for an FA Cup 1st round tie against Darlington in 1998 when we proceeded to lose a 2-0 lead in the last nine minutes to go out 3-2.
We probably should have won both of those games, and that's what we need to do tomorrow after losing our last two games at Leeds and Norwich. The Leeds defeat still rankles; it should have been the win that saw us into the top six. The cup defeat at Norwich was the right result, we could have no complaints about that one.
Unfortunately we've had to play recently with a disrupted back four. Michael Duff suffered a hamstring injury in the Boxing Day win against Doncaster Rovers which has forced him to miss the last three games, and Kieran Trippier was ruled out at Norwich after the ridiculous red card he received at Leeds.
That meant for the remainder of the game at Leeds and the cup tie at Norwich we were forced to move David Edgar to right back with Andre Amougou coming into the centre of defence. I've been a fan of Amougou and have often questioned his absence from the team. After his performance at Norwich last week I won't be asking those questions if he's not involved at Middlesbrough.
Trippier, we know, is back in contention having served his suspension. He'll return and I believe Duff will also be in the starting eleven which should allow us to return to the back for of Trippier-Duff-Edgar-Mee that had settled well during the run of good results.
That leaves Ross Wallace who was forced off early in the second half at Carrow Road after a collision with Ben Mee. Nothing has been said all week so we can only assume he's fit and will continue.
Although likely to be on the bench, it will be a last game for Sam Vokes before his loan comes to an end. Burnley are keen to extend it but whether Wolves will agree to that, given his lack of starts for the Clarets, remains to be seen.
The team tomorrow could be: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Junior Stanislas, Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez. Subs from: Jon Stewart, Andre Amougou, Brian Easton, Marvin Bartley, Keith Treacy, Sam Vokes, Charlie Austin.
Our Opponents - Middlesbrough
There is absolutely no doubt that Middlesbrough will provide tough opposition today. They beat us 2-0 earlier in the season and have been as good as any side I've seen at Turf Moor all season.
Admittedly we were poor that day but they were too strong for us and it is no surprise to me that they are riding so high in the table. They are currently in fourth place, behind Cardiff on goal difference and two points behind leaders Southampton and second place West Ham.
They've picked up more points on the road than at home but have only been beaten once at the Riverside all season, that against West Ham when they went down 2-0. The problem they've had at home is having drawn seven of their thirteen games.
They don't score a lot of goals but they have, along with West Ham, the best defensive record in the league with only 23 goals having been scored against them. They've netted 30 with both Marvin Emnes and Scott McDonald having scored seven of them.
Middlesbrough are likely to have former Claret Danny Coyne in goal tomorrow. He came on for Jason Steele last week when the first choice goalkeeper was injured and is expected to step in tomorrow with Steele ruled out. If he does it will be his first league appearance since August 2010.
It's in midfield where they have problems. Barry Robson is suspended whilst former Charlton midfielder Nicky Bailey is ruled out after suffering a medial ligament injury. Besides that both Faris Haroun and Julio Arca missed last week's cup game and both face fitness checks as do Scott McDonald and Bart Ogbeche.
Kevin Thomson, who hasn't been able to complete a league game this season, and 21-year-old Richard Smallwood are expected to play.
They beat Shrewsbury in the FA Cup last week and lined up: Jason Steele (Danny Coyne), Justin Hoyte, Joe Bennett, Matthew Bates, Rhys Williams, Richard Smallwood, Kevin Thomson, Malaury Martin (Tarmo Kink), Bart Ogbeche, Marvin Emnes, Scott McDonald. Subs not used: Curtis Main, Seb Hines, Adam Reach, Tony McMahon, Stephen McManus.
Last Time We Were There
Burnley's visit to Middlesbrough last season came three days after the comebacks of all comebacks against Preston at the Turf. Brian Laws made three changes from that side. Tyrone Mears, back from suspension, replaced David Edgar whilst Jack Cork and Chris Eagles were now ready to start and came in for Dean Marney and Martin Paterson.
|Andre Bikey headed Burnley into the lead|
The first half wasn't particularly inspirational. Middlesbrough probably started the brighter of the two but as the half progressed we improved and eventually did get the upper hand.
Our biggest problems appeared to be the antics of Julio Arca and Leroy Lita who had an amazing ability to go down untouched and win free kicks from one of the league's biggest 'homer' referees Jon Moss.
We were on top as the half closed at 0-0 but the home side came out all guns blazing after the break and we'd have fallen behind but for a breathtaking double save from Brian Jensen.
We saw them off and threatened to take the game by the scruff of the neck. We should have had a couple of goals but with twenty minutes of the second half gone we finally took the lead when Andre Bikey powered home a header from a Graham Alexander cross before doing a triple somersault in front of the Burnley fans.
We should have gone on and won this game. We were far better than Middlesbrough but Estonian substitute Tarmo Kink came on and won it for them.
With eleven minutes remaining he hit an unerring shot into the bottom corner to Jensen's left and then, from a free kick on the fourth minute of stoppage time, he hammered an exocet into the top corner which I don't think we'd have been able to keep out with three goalkeepers let alone one.
It silenced the Burnley fans who really couldn't believe we'd lost this one. Maybe we can get some revenge tomorrow when Ross Wallace is the only player likely to start who started this one.
The teams were;
Middlesbrough: Jason Steele, Justin Hoyte, Matthew Bates, Stephen McManus, Julio Arca, Barry Robson, Gary O'Neill (Tarmo Kink 75), Mickael Tavares, Andy Halliday (Kris Boyd 72), Scott McDonald, Leroy Lita. Subs not used: Danny Coyne, Tony McMahon, Seb Hines, Nicky Bailey, Richard Smallwood.
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Andre Bikey, Danny Fox, Graham Alexander, Wade Elliott, Jack Cork, Chris Eagles (Jay Rodriguez 87), Chris Iwelumo (Steven Thompson 68), Ross Wallace. Subs not used: Lee Grant, David Edgar, Leon Cort, Dean Marney, Martin Paterson.
Previous Games against Middlesbrough
|Last 20 Years|
|h||3-1||14,366||Rodriguez, Elliott, Duff|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Middlesbrough