After the floodgates had opened against Derby County in the previous game, many people expected Middlesbrough to do the same versus opponents in Bristol City who have the third-worst defensive record in the division.
However, Boro succumbed to a surprise 2-1 defeat at Ashton Gate, a third away fixture without success which leaves Chris Wilder’s side a point outside of the playoffs.
With games in hand on some of the clubs above them, Wilder will still back his players to end the campaign in the top six, but the setback is a wake-up call after several months of positivity since his arrival.
Since posting four successive shutouts in a row during December, Middlesbrough have now kept just one clean sheet in their last nine fixtures in all competitions.
Two of their next three league matches are at home, giving Boro a chance to get back on track, but they must handle the tag of clear favourites to see off a faltering West Brom side.
Steve Bruce was supposed to instigate an upturn in results when he was brought in as Valerien Ismael’s successor earlier this month.
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However, the Baggies have collected just one point from games with Sheffield United, Blackburn Rovers and Luton Town, scoring no goals in the process.
The West Midlands outfit have now gone five fixtures without contributing in the final third, a drought which has led to the club dropping down to 11th position.
Although the situation is still salvageable while they remain just four points adrift of the top six, all momentum has been lost, and only a win against the odds is going to lift the storm clouds over The Hawthorns