For Saturday luncheon the Championship is serving up an absolute humdinger as league leading Derby travel to Middlesbrough, who trail them by a two points.
The Rams may be in the ascendancy as the clock ticks down to kick off, but recent wobbles on the road mean they’re likely to fall under the wheels of Boro side inspired in equal parts by defensive diligence and the goals of former County striker Patrick Bamford.
Middlesbrough are 6/5 jollies to best Steven McClaren’s table-toppers, with their Riverside guests 21/10 for three points and the draw a 9/4 wager.
Derby’s away record is such that they still rate the fourth-best side in a division purely based on road results.
However, ahead of this particularly demanding assignment they’ve now lost twice in their last three away days.
A leaky travelling rearguard has been key in undermining their progress, with two goals shipped in three of their last four beyond the confines of their own back yard.
That recently-developed propensity for concession could be fatal against a side as hard to penetrate at home as Aitor Karanka’s Teessiders, who have allowed their rivals a goal or less in all bar one of their ten home games this season.
While it’s true that they’ve not rewarded the ever-swelling Riverside faithful with endless victories this term, Derby’s elevated status should ensure the hosts are afforded a more open game than most sides who turn up seek to play out.
Whether or not the tussle transpires in the manner foreseen Boro have a lethal weapon in the form of one-time County loanee Bamford who has found the net in five of the last six games.
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