"Star of the North …
The iron … of a hardy people’s will"
(The quotation refers to Middlesbrough’s traditional nickname of “The Ironsides”, not to be confused with present-day Scunthorpe United or indeed Middlesbrough Ironopolis who were a Football League team in 1893/94)
A break from League One duty and a chance to cement our current top-of-the-table place in this largely meaningless competition. It does, however, give both clubs the chance to give fringe players some game time as well as an opportunity to tinker with tactics. Middlesbrough’s position in the Championship is identical to ours in League One - in the play-off zone with the same number of points (22) from games played (12). Their defence is easily the meanest in their League, having conceded only 6 goals - perhaps an indication of the methods favoured by manager Tony Pulis? Having said that, they managed to lose 0-2 at home to Nottingham Forest this weekend…
No point in quoting Boro’s current Championship form as it’s very doubtful we will be faced by their first team.
What can we expect from Dean Keates? In our previous game in this competition we showed our usual away form at the Pirelli Stadium by winning 1-2 against Burton Albion. Kieron Morris and Josh Gordon were on target for us in that encounter, and both of them will probably expect to play some part (particularly Morris, after his late effort secured 3 points at Bristol Rovers). It must be tempting to try different formations away from League One pressures, but progress in this competition is worthwhile from a financial standpoint if nothing else, which, as we all know, is of major importance in the running of WFC affairs.
No real value in predicting this one - there is one more game to come in the Group Stage of this trophy (at home to Port Vale), and a draw would certainly keep us in contention for future matches.