McNair and Watmore seal Boro’s ninth straight home win ahead of Chelsea FA Cup quarter-final
CHELSEA must conquer Fortress Riverside in the FA Cup after Middlesbrough have won nine straight at home.
A Paddy McNair penalty and Duncan Watmore’s late strike sent Chris Wilder’s men past Luton and into the top six.
With three away games to come before the Blues hit Teesside, Boro will hope to make it the perfect ten once they return in a fortnight after their best home run since the 1997/98 campaign.
But Wilder perhaps enjoyed this one the most: “It was a tussle, turgid, and all to score the first goal.
“But with my characteristics and my personality, I enjoyed that more than some home wins because it was a real ‘show me what you got’ to see the game and we did that.
“We now have three tough away games. The key is to transfer those results into away matches.
The match did not come to life in windy conditions until the hosts were awarded a penalty.
Folarin Balogun’s touch sent him away from Reece Burke as the Luton man threw him to the ground, leading McNair to send in rookie goalkeeper Alex Palmer, who joined on loan. West Brom emergency, the wrong way.
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Boro wanted another penalty as Balogun went down again with Tom Lockyer close by, but this time the referee had none of it.
Allan Campbell moved up the other end to pass the ball to Cameron Jerome, only for Joe Lumley to save the veteran’s pushing effort.
Nathan Jones’ men had a great chance to equalize after the restart as Jerome’s flick found Elijah Adebayo clear.
But Lumley saved his team twice within seconds, first by denying the striker with his legs, then from Jerome’s header from the resulting corner.
The scrappy contest threatened to boil over after an innocuous foul past the dugouts, which led to Boro coach Leo Percovich being carded after a touchline scrum.
Aaron Connolly tested Palmer with an overhead kick and then a close kick, but it was Watmore who put Luton out of their misery.
The sub cut inside Burke on the left and drilled low inside Palmer’s near post.
Harry Cornick pulled one back seconds from the end, but it was too little, too late.
Jones said: “We just didn’t defend two situations well enough.
“I am extremely frustrated with the way the game went. We had the best chance. »
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