Middlesbrough 2 Luton 1: McNair and Watmore seal Boro's ninth straight home win ahead of Chelsea FA Cup quarter final

CHELSEA will have to conquer Fortress Riverside in the FA Cup after Middlesbrough made it nine straight home wins.

A Paddy McNair penalty and late Duncan Watmore strike moved Chris Wilder’s men above Luton and into the top six.


And with three away games to come before the Blues hit Teesside, Boro will be hoping to make it a perfect ten once they return to home turf in a fortnight.

The game failed to spark into life in the blustery conditions until the hosts were awarded a penalty quarter of an hour in.

Isaiah Jones carried the ball down the right and fed a pass into the path of Folarin Balogun.

The on-loan Arsenal forward’s heavy touch took him away from Reece Burke as the Luton man bundled him to the floor.

That allowed McNair to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot to break the deadlock.

Cameron Jerome was lucky to only get yellow when he caught Anfernee Dijksteel in the crown jewels moments later.

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Boro wanted another penalty 15 minutes later as Balogun went tumbling again with Tom Lockyer in close proximity, but this time the referee was having none of it.

Allan Campbell powered forward at the other end to feed the ball through to Jerome, only for Joe Lumley to save the veteran’s prodded effort.

Gabriel Osho was forced off for the visitors and replaced by Henri Lansbury before Jones wasted a chance to tee-up Aaron Connolly in the dying seconds as debutant Luton goalie Alex Palmer, who joined on emergency loan from West Brom on Friday, smothered his low cross.

Nathan Jones’ men had a great chance to level after the restart as Jerome’s flick found Elijah Adebayo clean through after beating the offside trap.

But Lumley saved his side twice in a matter of seconds, firstly denying the forward with his legs before the ball was deflected wide for a corner, and then from Jerome’s header off the resulting set-piece.

The scrappy contest threatened to boil over after an innocuous foul right in front of the dug-outs, leading to Boro coach Leo Percovich getting carded after players and benches from both teams waded into each other.

Connolly tested Palmer with an overhead kick and then a near post flick but it was Watmore who finally put Luton out of their misery.

The sub cut inside Burke down the left and drilled a low left drive from the corner of the six-yard box inside Palmer’s near post.

Harry Cornick pulled one back with seconds to go but it was too little, too late.

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