Middlesbrough travel to Millwall following their most turbulent week of the season looking for their first win in three.
Last weekend saw Boro drop two points at home when Rudy Gestede scored a controversial equaliser in the 95th minute. Naturally annoyed by this, Karanka argued with the officials and he was sent to the stands by referee Mark Clattenburg for his actions. He now faces an FA Charge for misconduct.
Which he speaks about here-
Tuesday saw yet more drama as assistant manager Craig Hignett left his post for differences with the rest of the coaching staff. Rumours then circled on Wednesday that Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni would be working with the club but that was soon quashed by Aitor Karanka on Thursday.
Finally Boro were met with some positive news on Thursday when it was announced that midfielder Grant Leadbitter had signed a new deal taking him up to 2018. The former Ipswich Town player has been one of the key players this season, particularly on the goals front with 8 in the league so far.
On Saturday Boro face a Millwall team which came from two goals down to draw at Bournemouth last weekend. Goals from Ed Upson and Magaye Gueye were enough to salvage a point at the promotion chasers. Despite a positive draw last weekend, Millwall have not won a league game since the end of October when they recorded a 1-0 win over Cardiff City at the Den.
Middlesbrough travel to Millwall with one guaranteed absentee in Ryan Fredericks, the Tottenham loanee has been essential in some of the better performances this season with eye to get forward and his intelligence in defence. While it will be a major loss, Emilio Nsue will provide more than adequate cover for the youngster.
Boro have enjoyed recent visits to the Den and none more so than last when goals from Emmanuel Ledesma and Albert Adomah gave Boro a 2-0 win. A win that kick-started their tremendous run during the Christmas period of last season.
Despite Millwall’s position in the league, Aitor Karanka is well aware of the challenge ahead: “Millwall are the kind of team that if you go there thinking it’s going to be an easy game because of their position in the table then you are making a very big mistake,”
Billingham Synthonia face Guisborough at the King George V Ground just one week after playing them at the Motif8 Stadium. The Priorymen got the better of Synners last time when a brace from striker Daniel Earl gave them a 2-1 victory.
Guisborough will be looking for a repeat of their 3-1 victory over Synthonia in the FA Vase when they welcome them to the KGV. They have not won a home league game since September when they beat West Allotment Celtic 6-0. While Synners have only won one league game since September- a 2-1 win over Durham City in their last away game.
With a win Guisborough could move up to 6th, providing Durham City lose at home to Jarrow Roofing BCA. Synners cannot move out of the bottom three but they will close the gap should West Allotment Celtic lose at home to Sunderland RCA.
Billingham Town face Thornaby at the Evolution Arena in all Teesside clash in the Northern League Division Two. Town are going in search of their face first win in three league games since a 3-1 win over Esh Winning near the beginning of November.
After progressing to the E Armstrong Memorial Cup Quarter Finals in midweek with a 3-1 win over Heaton Stannington, Thornaby will be eyeing up their chance to move into 6th position in the league, the Blues have been average form of late winning just two of their last five league game.
Billingham Town will need to be sharp to stop Thornaby’s danger men, Jamie Clarke and Daniel Lofts have scored a combined 19 goals between them this season.
This is the second meeting of the two clubs this season, last time out they played out a 1-1 draw at Thornaby in the second league game of the season.
Highlights of that game can be seen here-
With Seaham Red Star in FA Vase action, Norton & Stockton Ancients have an excellent chance to go top of the second division once again when they travel to Darlington RA. The Ancients will be looking to continue their fine run of form which has seen them record 11 points from their last five league games. In their last three alone, they have scored 11 goals to just one conceded in wins over Brandon United, Esh Winning and Willington.
Darlington RA can move up into 5th the league should results go their way but they should have their work cut out. The Railwaymen have been guilty of being on the end of some thrashings of late, including a 5-0 defeat at Seaham Red Star last weekend. They have shown some decent home form, losing just once at home since the end of August.
This is the second time the clubs have met this season, last time out Norton & Stockton Ancients recorded a 2-1 win at the Norton Sports Complex.
In other Northern League news, the draws for the E Armstrong Memorial Cup Quarter-Final and the Brookes Mileson League Cup Third Round have been made.
In the E Armstrong Memorial Cup Billingham Town have been drawn at home to Chester-Le-Street, while Norton & Stockton Ancients have been drawn away to Thornaby.
In the league cup, Billingham Synthonia have been handed a tough draw in the form of an away trip to Shildon.
After their home game with Whitehaven last weekend was called off for a waterlogged pitch, Wolviston will again try to host Wearside League football at Metcalfe Park when they take on Horden CW. The Colliers are second in the league and they form is the complete opposite to Wolviston’s having won four of their last five games.
Wolviston on the other hand have not won a game since they beat Harton and Westoe CW 5-1 at home back in October. Still, they have not lost a league game by more than one goal since a 4-1 defeat to Silksworth at the end of August.
They will need to be wary of Horden forward Michael Pattison, the 27-year-old has enjoyed a very productive season thus far with 17 league goals- 13 more than Wolviston top scorers Chris Fairless and Christopher Burton.
For Round-Up of all these games, make sure to visit this blog tomorrow for the Weekend Round-Up.