Football: Hendrie gives Boro hope

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The Independent Online
Middlesbrough. .1

Arsenal. . . . .0

MIDDLESBROUGH moved off the bottom of the Premier League, temporarily at least, with this narrow and hard-fought win at Ayresome Park last night against Arsenal, whose cup- double ambitions are clearly uppermost in their thoughts.

David Hillier's part in the Coca- Cola final, at least, is in doubt after he limped off with a knee injury after only 11 minutes. The seriousness of the ligament damage will be assessed by a specialist today.

Arsenal made five changes from Sunday's FA Cup semi-final side, while Middlesbrough, who lost 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, restored the youngsters, Jamie Pollock and Graham Kavanagh, to midfield after an absence of nearly two months.

Nigel Winterburn needed treatment early on and then Hillier departed after a challenge on Andy Peake that brought Middlesbrough a free-kick. Craig Hignett drove the ball narrowly wide from 25 yards.

Middlesbrough, who desperately needed the points, were not pussy- footing around and with half an hour gone they took the lead with a superb goal from their winger John Hendrie. He chased a lofted pass from Hignett to drive the ball low past David Seaman from just inside the penalty area. Hendrie almost made it 2-0 from a similar move, but this time Seaman dived to his right to save.

Peake, who had just returned from a one-match suspension, went into the referee's book near the interval after he tripped Jimmy Carter in full flight. Shortly after the interval Curtis Fleming became the second Middlesbrough player to be cautioned when he swept the feet from Anders Limpar.

The Swede, with his quick thinking and intelligent passing, was a key figure in Arsenal's attacks, which carried more conviction this half. He came close to an equaliser with a low, right-foot shot that sent Steven Pears scrambling to save at the second attempt after a basic defensive mistake by Fleming.

Ian Wright, who had been a peripheral figure in the opening 45 minutes, made a determined run through the middle only to be crowded out by anxious Middlesbrough defenders, who were relying heavily on a risky offside tactic. He then came within a whisker of lobbing Pears, who finger- tipped the ball over the bar as he tumbled backwards into the net.

Middlesbrough: Pears; Fleming, Phillips, Kernaghan, Mohan, Peake, Hendrie, Kavanagh, Wilkinson, Pollock, Hignett. Substitutes not used: Whyte, Moore, Ironside (gk).

Arsenal: Seaman; O'Leary (Keown, 74), Winterburn, Hillier (Morrow, 11), Linighan, Adams, Jensen, Wright, Smith, Carter, Limpar. Substitute not used: Miller (gk)

Referee: K Hackett (Sheffield).