Boro Match Preview

Tuesday 19 April 2005

Fulham travel to the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday hoping to move further clear of the relegation battle. The Whites find themselves in 16th place in the table, seven points clear of the drop zone and with a game in hand on the bottom three. However, with six games still left to play, Chris Coleman will be all too aware that his charges still need to keep focused for the rest of the campaign.

At the weekend, the Whites secured a draw at home to Manchester City, courtesy of Luis Boa Morte's third goal in three games. The goal against City was the former Gunner's eighth in the Premiership this season, but the first not scored with his left-foot. Indeed, the Portuguese international has scored more left-footed goals this season than any other player.

Steve McClaren's men had no fixture last weekend but will be hoping to get back to wining ways following their 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal the previous week. That result leaves Boro in eighth place on 45 points with a European place still to play for.

Boa Morte has, however, picked up six yellow cards in his last ten top tier games, a disciplinary record his manager will be hoping he can improve upon.

Boro's very own left-sided schemer Stewart Downing is also sure to provide a threat on Tuesday. The youngster has enjoyed an excellent season, catapulted into the England senior set-up by a number of superb displays for his club. Downing has notched four goals himself this term, although in each of those games Boro have only gone on to draw the match.

However, Downing's real strength lies in his ability to create chances for his team-mates. The 21-year-old has fired in 203 crosses this season, more than any other player in the Premiership. The winger also has 11 goal assists to his name, the third-highest total behind Thierry Henry and Frank Lampard.

One player to benefit from Downing's play has been Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink. The veteran Dutch striker has scorched home an impressive 11 goals this term, a haul only bettered by three other players. The former Leeds hitman has also proved to be one of the top division's most trigger-happy attackers, racking up 76 attempts on goal, again a total bettered by only three other players.

Chris Coleman will be looking to his defence to stifle Hasselbaink, Downing and the rest of Boro's attack on Tuesday, however the Teesiders have a very good recent record at home to Fulham in the Premiership. Boro have scored two goals in each of their three Premiership meetings with the Whites at the Riverside, winning two and drawing one. Indeed Steve McClaren's side have scored two goals in five of the last six league meetings with Fulham, home and away.

The Whites have endured a difficult campaign, but Chris Coleman will be hoping his players can finish the season off with some good displays. Despite the fact that Fulham have yet to secure a victory at the Riverside in the Premiership, the Welsh tactician will no doubt be looking to his charges to notch up their tenth win of the season and stay clear of the relegation dogfight below.