Bristol City 0 Middlesbrough 4

Last updated : 19 January 2011 By Northern Echo

LEROY Lita has been something of an enigma since his arrival at Middlesbrough with supporters not really knowing what to expect from their fleet-footed forward.

Gareth Southgate brought the striker to the Riverside on a free transfer in 2009 and, since then, fans have been either enthralled by moments of true brilliance or driven to absolute despair by his inconsistency.

Yet in recent weeks the 26- year-old frontman has began to find some regular rhythm to his performances, and on Saturday it culminated with him being the catalyst in a crushing defeat over his former club Bristol City.

Lita was inspired, netting a brace, one a penalty, while making another in the 4-0 triumph Boro's best win since a 4-1 victory at Doncaster last January. But it was not without controversy.

The forward was booked after scoring the first of his brace for an over-zealous celebration in front of the City fans. He took his shirt off and taunted a section of the Ashton Gate crowd next to the visiting supporters.

But Lita, who rarely gives press interviews, made it known his over exuberance was because the home fans had been abusing my family.

Lita's hard running and persistence was rewarded when Boro went ahead through an own goal.

He chased what looked like a lost cause when latching on to Andrew Taylor's hoofed clearance, but he managed to rob a dithering defender before weaving his way into the hosts' box and finding the back of the net via Kalifa Cisse three minutes before the break.

Lita's first came courtesy of Tony McMahon's deep cross from the right. Lurking at the back post, Lita headed home.

Barry Robson netted a fine individual third before the Democratic Republic of Congo man lashed a penalty past defender Liam Fontaine, in goal for David James, who was sent off for felling Boro substitute Cameron Park in the last minute.

Manager Tony Mowbray admitted he was delighted with his striker's performance.

Leroy was virtually unplayable,

said the Boro boss after seeing his side stretch their unbeaten run to four and climb to 19th in the table.

He never allowed City's defence a moment's peace.

It's not easy for strikers to turn in that sort of performance week-in, week-out, as even the best, such as Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres, have found this season. But Leroy showed what a player he can be in this game and has set a standard we hope he can do his best to maintain.

I don't think one of their centre halves had a free header all day. He was a physical menace to them.

He showed great desire to score the first goal, which wasn't his, to burst through two defenders and drive past somebody in the box and cross it. I'm delighted for Leroy, he has worked extremely hard and is a boy who is very passionate about his football and it shows in his play at times.

We're striving to get the best out of him. He's had competition from (Kris) Boyd and (Scott) McDonald who have had big reputations from Scotland.

But he's done extremely well today.

The same could not be said about Boyd, who was possibly the only disappointment in a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Boro were always in control and Robson, Taylor, Nicky Bailey and Gary O'Neil bossed midfield, while David Wheater, once again, showed his Premier League ability.

Mowbray was understandably happy his team have finally managed to turn dominance into goals and points something they have struggled to achieve in the first half of the current campaign.

We have talked in recent weeks about the performance levels of the team but we have not been getting what we've deserved, but I thought we deserved to win this match,

said the Boro boss. Hopefully it will give the team some confidence that we can do that week in and week out.

The Teessiders have a big month in front of them and if they can maintain this form ahead of fixtures with Preston, Scunthorpe and Crystal Palace, teams around them, they can put some distance between themselves and the bottom three.

We're delighted to get off to a winning start. Every game in this league, whether you're playing a team at the top or bottom, is incredibly difficult and competitive until you make it otherwise, of course.

The three games before the FA Cup were against Norwich, Leeds and Cardiff. They are all in the top four of the league, and we won one and drew two.

Maybe we should have won them all but we didn't.

I'm a big believer if your performance level is high week in and week out you should get the rewards and we did against Bristol City.

MATCHFACTS Goals 0-1: Cisse OG (42, Lita's cross from the left turned into his own net by Cisse from four yards) 0-2: Lita (58, McMahon's deep cross from the right was headed in at the back post from close range by the striker) 0-3: Robson (77, the Scot had a shot deflected in from just inside the 18-yard box) 0-4: Lita (90, penalty, James fouled Park and Lita despatched spot kick high into roof of net past Fontaine) Bookings: Pitman (36, foul), Lita (58, ungentlemanly conduct), O'Neil (72, foul) Sending-off: James (90, foul) Referee: Darren Drysdale ( Lincoln) Not popular with the hosts' supporters and got the sending off wrong, not that the visitors would complain 4 Attendance: 13,699 Entertainment:

BRISTOL CITY (4-4-2): James 4; Skuse 5, Caulker 4, Cisse 4 (Fontaine 65, 5), Nyatanga 4; ADOMAH 5, Johnson 5, Elliott 5; Campbell-Ryce 5 (Clarkson 80); Pitman 5, Stead 5 (Sproule 65, 5).

Subs (not used): Stewart, Carey, Haynes, Gerken (gk)

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-5-1): 7 Steele: Kept on his toes but answered all the questions posed by City 7 Hoyte: Steady before a hamstring injury cut his participation short 6 Bates: The skipper was not really troubled 7 Wheater: It is a mystery why he remains at Boro as once again he was class personified 6 Bennett: A little sloppy in the beginning but sorted himself out as the game wore on 8 Robson: Typical industrious display culminating with a classy individual goal. 7 O'Neil: Got caught in possession a few times in the opening exchanges but his influence grew as the match progressed 7 Bailey: Sacrificed his own game for the good of the side and put in an unselfish display 7 Taylor: A confident return in an unfamiliar left side of midfield position 9 LITA: Scored two, made one and was unplayable at times 4 Boyd: There's more go in a red traffic light.

Subs: McMahon (for Hoyte 39): Slotted in well and Hoyte was not missed 6 Emnes (for Boyd 62): Made himself busy and put a shift in 5 Park (for O'Neil 82) (not used): Coyne (gk), Kink, Arca, Hines

MAN OF THE MATCH LEROY Lita - Scored a brace and made another in an inspired performance

Source: Northern Echo

Source: Northern Echo