Aitor Karanka says the pressure is on for Middlesbrough to win promotion – and they could set a new second-tier record on Saturday when they face Bristol City.Leaders Boro have kept nine consecutive clean sheets in the Sky Bet Championship heading into the weekend, not conceding a goal since a defeat to Hull City on 7th November.
Keeping it clean
20th November: Middlesbrough 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
28th November: Huddersfield Town 0-2 Middlesbrough
4th December: Ipswich Town 0-2 Middlesbrough
12th December: Middlesbrough 0-0 Birmingham City
15th December: Middlesbrough 1-0 Burnley
19th December: Brighton & Hove Albion 0-3 Middlesbrough
28th December: Middlesbrough 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday
2nd January: Middlesbrough 2-0 Derby County
12th January: Brentford 0-1 Middlesbrough
They are currently level with Chelsea (1905/06) and Leeds (1927/28) with the most consecutive clean sheets in the second tier (9), so another against the Robins would see them set a new record.
Charlton Athletic's run of 10 consecutive clean sheets in 1997/98 was across two seasons - seven in what was then Division 1 and three in the top flight.
The all-time record, meanwhile, is 11, being kept by Reading (1978/79), York City (1973/74) and Millwall (1925/26), in divisions lower than the Championship.
Read more: The most consecutive clean sheets – click here to see the records
Boro's midweek win at Brentford saw them extend their lead at the Sky Bet Championship summit to five points, and boss Karanka says the only pressure his players are putting themselves under is to maintain their high standards.
“The pressure is to get promotion this season,” Karanka told mfc.co.uk. “Everything else is good, but we want to win promotion. They want to win, they want to get promotion, and they are winners.
“It's amazing at the moment, especially after our December. That was a really difficult month with some tough games, but after our results everything was easier. We are in a really good position.”
Middlesbrough's weekend opponents Bristol City are 22nd in the division, and dismissed manager Steve Cotterill on Thursday having failed to win in seven matches.
That decision by the club came only 256 days after Cotterill led City to their first league title since 1995, and promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
Chairman Keith Dawe said: “I thank Steve Cotterill for all his efforts over the last two seasons. Sadly we haven’t managed to push on from last season and the time has come for us to all move forward.
“The club’s aspiration is to ultimately become a Premier League club and this decision has been made to achieve our overall strategy for growth and player development.”
See if Middlesbrough can set a new second tier clean sheets record by following @SkyBetChamp on Twitter over the weekend.