Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Arsenal loannee Balogun makes instant impact off bench by setting up Sporar for winner

ARSENAL loanee Folarin Balogun made an instant impact as he came off the bench to help fire Middlesbrough to victory over Coventry.

The 20-year-old forward was only on the pitch a matter of seconds when he created the chance for Andraz Sporar to claim the points with his first touch.

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Folarin Balogun came off the bench to help Middlesbrough beat CoventryCredit: Getty
The star set-up Andraz Sporar for the winner with his first touch

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The star set-up Andraz Sporar for the winner with his first touchCredit: Getty

After seeing their play-off hopes dented by defeat at Blackburn in midweek, their first loss since November, Chris Wilder’s Boro got back to winning ways against their rivals for the top six.

They headed into this one looking to extend their four-match winning streak at The Riverside – but the Sky Blues were aiming to add to their own impressive run.

Mark Robins’ side were undefeated in the last five away outings, but they now find themselves languishing in midtable after this setback.

They actually made the better start in the gale-force conditions with Josh Eccles firing wide after a smart move. 

Aaron Connolly replied with a tame effort before Boro then forced Coventry goalie Simon Moore into action with a save low to his left through Paddy McNair, with the Northern Ireland star drilling the ball from 25 yards following Jonny Howson’s tee-up.

Back up the other end, Boro’s hearts were in their mouths when Kyle McFadzean headed a corner wide at the back post.

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And then Callum O’Hare met Jamie Allen’s cutback but his strike was palmed away by Joe Lumley.

The cagey encounter remained scoreless at the break with the visitors just about edging it.

And they were only denied taking the lead after the restart by the woodwork.

Boro failed to clear a corner and the ball dropped perfectly for McFadzean to control with his left and thunder a strike off the underside of the crossbar with his right.

Within seconds Jordan Shipley side footed a shot wide as Coventry began to turn the screw.

Chris Wilder had seen enough and made a double change ten minutes in, Argentine midfielder Martin Payero and forward Folarin Balogun on for Howson and Connolly.

And it was Balogun who made an instant impact when meeting Marcus Tavernier’s pass and racing down the left of the area to cut the ball across goal for Sporar to slide home.

Lumley was called into action again as he tipped over O’Hare’s header and then it was Boro’s turn to be denied by the goal-frame with McNair’s headed effort hitting the post.

The action was end-to-end as Martyn Waghorn was brought on to bolster the visitors’ attack.

His partner Viktor Gyokeres, who ended a near-four-month goal-drought in the midweek win at Stoke, struck straight at Lumley as the Sky Blues tried to get some momentum going but it was full-back Jake Clarke-Salter who fluffed their best chance with a slice at the death.

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