They stepped up a gear after the break to turn this final Group A match on its head.BCFC
They stepped up a gear after the break to turn this final Group A match on its head.
Kyle McFarlane equalised in the 52nd minute, shortly after hitting the crossbar with a penalty.
And Blues got what proved to be the decisive goal via Olly McCoy in the 61st minute.
The result moved Blues to second in the table behind group winners Derby County, who defeated Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
It means Forest have to win the final match at Middlesbrough on 26 February to deny Blues progression to the last 16, alternatively Boro have to win their last two fixtures in the group to pip Richard Beale’s side. A draw between the pair would suit Blues.
It was a first-half to forget for Blues at Nuneaton Town’s ground.
The visitors scored a superb goal through Tyrone O’Neill in the 16th minute after he latched onto a headed clearance that dropped at the edge of the area. He took three touches, lifting the ball on the bounce to turn and face goalwards, before smashing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Boro made most of the running the first period and Blues struggled to really get a hold on things and threaten.
However, it was a different story after the interval.
Just two minutes in a driving run and shot by Corey O’Keeffe resulted in a penalty as Hayden Coulson felled McFarlane as he attempted to follow-up the parried attempt by the goalkeeper.
McFarlane took the spot-kick himself and struck it powerfully with his sidefoot, to the right, but the ball cannoned back off the face of the crossbar.
No matter, though, as Blues opened up Boro down the left with a nicely crafted move and from Steve Seddon’s cross a scuffed clearance was snaffled by McFarlane, who moved swiftly and expertly to tuck the ball into the bottom corner to register his 10th goal of the season.
As Boro struggled to cope with Blues incisive attacks and increased tempo, it was no surprise when another goal came.
The move started with a Connal Trueman pass to Josh Dacres-Cogley, who moved it forward to Remeao Hutton. He accelerated on and cut the ball back for McFarlane from the byline.
McFarlane’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper but the ball spun up towards the back post where McCoy came in and deftly tucked it away from a tight angle.
It wasn’t until it became desperation stakes at the end that Boro looked like they would get back into it.
They hit the crossbar twice in four minutes with shots from outside the area by Stephen Walker and O’Neill as Blues had to dig in.
But they saw the match out, with captain Wes Harding – fresh from signing a new two-year contract – and Josh Martin stepping to the fore to repel a stream of balls that were sent into the danger zone.
In stoppage-time Trueman got down low at his right-hand post to keep at bay a snapshot by Connor Malley and that was that for Boro.
Blues: Trueman, Dacres-Cogley, Seddon, Harding, Martin, Lakin, Bernard, Hutton, O’Keeffe (Storer 60), McCoy (Maxwell 83), McFarlane. Subs not used: McDonald, Weaver.