Middlesbrough 2-1 Rochdale: Marvin Johnson and Jordan Hugill on target for hosts
Report and highlights from Carabao Cup second-round clash
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 28/08/18 11:19pm
Middlesbrough reached the third round of the Carabao Cup as goals from Marvin Johnson and Jordan Hugill secured a 2-1 win over Rochdale.
Rochdale threatened to stage a dramatic late recovery after Ryan Delaney reduced their arrears with seven minutes left, but a youthful Middlesbrough side successfully held on.
With his side due to face Leeds in a top-of-the-table Championship clash on Friday night, Boro boss Tony Pulis made 10 changes from the side that beat West Brom last Friday with only centre-back Daniel Ayala retaining his place.
Perhaps predictably, the alterations resulted in a stuttering opening spell, with neither side able to create much in the way of first-half chances.
A sliding Ashley Fletcher narrowly failed to connect with Paddy McNair's driven cross in the 11th minute, but it was almost the half-hour mark before Boro forced Rochdale goalkeeper Magnus Norman to make his first save.
Enes Mahmutovic's inch-perfect through-ball sent Fletcher galloping clear of the opposition defence, but Norman got down well to turn the striker's low shot around the post.
Rochdale went into the game having claimed just one League One victory all season, but Keith Hill's side were industrious and well organised, albeit without carrying much of a threat in attack.
Callum Camps fired an early effort straight at Andy Lonergan after Grant Leadbitter was robbed of possession in his own half, and Ian Henderson also drilled straight at the Middlesbrough goalkeeper after cutting in from the left.
Boro became increasingly dominant as the first half wore on and claimed the lead eight minutes before the break.
Hugill headed Marcus Tavernier's right-wing cross against the base of the post, and Johnson was on hand to drive the rebound into the far corner.
Fletcher almost doubled the hosts' lead on the stroke of half-time, but he fired a low shot wide after breaking into the box.
Calvin Andrew tested Lonergan with a rising drive at the start of the second half, but the game was effectively settled when Middlesbrough doubled their lead nine minutes after the restart.
Johnson stood up a cross from the left, and Hugill powered home an eight-yard header to claim his first Middlesbrough goal.
He was substituted shortly after that and his replacement, Harry Chapman, came close to a goal of his own when he curled a 65th-minute shot against the base of the post.
Rochdale pulled a goal back with seven minutes left, Delaney prodding home after Lonergan saved from Andrew, and came close to forcing penalties when Delaney fired in another late effort that Mahmutovic cleared off the line.