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In opposition: Cardiff City v Middlesbrough

14 November 2012

It's second against third this weekend in the npower Championship as Middlesbrough, who are unbeaten in eight, travel to Cardiff City, who have won all eight of their home matches so far this season.

This one promises to be a thrilling encounter and here, we preview the match with the help of a supporter from each club.



Name: Jon French.

Club: Cardiff City.

Number of years as a supporter: 23.

Favourite moment as a fan: Beating Barnsley 1-0 at Wembley in 2008 to reach our first FA Cup final in 81 years.

How many games a season do you attend? 25-30.

Where do you sit? The Ninian Stand.

Name: Gary Stonehouse.

Club: Middlesbrough.

Number of years as a supporter: 18.

Favourite moment as a fan: Winning the League Cup in 2004 will take some topping, but I've been quite lucky that in my 18 years of supporting Boro, the club has enjoyed its most successful period. From the days of Ravanelli and Emerson and reaching consecutive cup finals, right up until the last match I went to two weeks ago at Charlton Athletic, it has been a rollercoaster.

How many games a season do you attend? Around 15.

Where do you sit? The North East corner.


What happened in your last match?

JF: We beat Hull City 2-1 in a close game, a club record eighth straight home win since the start of the season.

GS: Last Friday we moved top of the league, albeit for less than 24 hours, after a 3-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. The club put a really good ticket offer on and the fans responded, with 28,000 roaring the lads on to victory. That made it nine games unbeaten, including seven wins.

Why is this game important?

JF: Second against third says it all really, we've started excellently again but need to shake off the current image of Cardiff as a team that fades badly towards the end of the season. A win against Middlesbrough will put us back in the automatic promotion places where we are desperate to finish this season, I can't face the Play-Offs again.

GS: Cardiff are challenging at the top and are certainly one of the favourites for promotion. They've been close the last few years and no doubt they will finish there or thereabouts again this season. On the other hand, I think that we've taken quite a few by surprise with our start this season and with both teams riding high, this is already a six-pointer. If we can win this it sends out a massive statement to the rest of the division that we mean business.

How do you see this game going?

JF: As I said previously, we've been superb at home this season and average at best away, so we should be slight favourites. Tony Mowbray's sides are always excellent to watch and we are the division's top scorers so it should be good entertainment. The key for Cardiff will be keeping Marvin Emnes quiet as he always plays well against us; I've also heard that Josh McEachern is starting to look the part for Boro, so we'll have to keep an eye on him.

GS: Cardiff are very strong at home, and it is obviously going to be an extremely tough test. However, we have won on our last two visits there and we should go with nothing to fear. The team seem to have steeliness about them this season, which we have lacked previously, and I'm tipping us to keep our run going.

Who should we keep our eye on?

.npower Championship Kim Bo Kyung has come into the side in recent matches and looked very good after a nervous start. He is skilful with a few tricks and revels in the short passing game. He was signed for £2.5million in the summer and he played for South Korea in the Olympic Games, where he was named in the team of the tournament, so we are expecting great things from him. There's also Peter Whittingham of course, the Rolls Royce of the JF:

Right through the team players are excelling. Jason Steele is in fine form in goal with Jonny Woodgate also doing well in the heart of the defence. Grant Leadbitter and Josh McEachran are really clicking in midfield and big Lukas Jutkiewicz is banging them in up front. Yet the star man for me this year is our left-back George Friend. He loves to attack and get in the opposition box and he's due a goal, hopefully it'll come on Saturday.GS:

Any memories of previous encounters?

JF: Two FA Cup upsets stick in the mind. First, beating Boro 2-0 at the Riverside in the 2008 quarter-final in a game featuring a screamer from Peter Whittingham, then a 2-1 win at Ayresome Park in the third Round in 1994 with a late winner from Nathan Blake, which kick-started a famous cup run in the days when we were really rubbish.

GS: I'll never forget Cardiff coming to the Riverside in The FA Cup quarter-final back in 2008 and turning us over 2-0 when we were in the Premier League. Gutted wasn't the word. Since relegation, we've had a bit of revenge, especially two seasons ago when we ruined promotion for them by hammering them 3-0 at their place, but a victory this weekend would top that.

Score prediction?

JF: 3-2 to Cardiff.

GS: I think they'll be plenty of goals. I'm going for a repeat of last season and Boro to edge it 3-2.

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