NEIL WARNOCK admits he is already daring to dream after Britt Assombalonga and Djed Spence sealed a late 2-0 win for Middlesbrough over Coventry.
Hopes are mounting on Teesside that the veteran is waving his magic wand again after his patient side stretched their unbeaten run to seven.
It was also the third clean sheet in four for Boro, who are now only out of the top six on goal difference.
Warnock, who has eight promotions on his CV, said: “You always look at the table – you always say ‘I never look’ but I looked after one game.
“The hardest games are the ones against teams you are not expecting.
“Cardiff, Bristol City, Reading, they take care of themselves but these are the hardest games, especially if you want to do well.
“That’s why I was really pleased with the attitude, application, everything was spot on.
“We had most of the chances and I said at half time these are the games we have to win by hook or crook.
“I told them to be patient but we had to be careful, and I was pleased with the discipline.”
It was far from pretty as an uneventful opening period was quickly forgotten.
Play restarted with Patrick Roberts cutting-out a poor backpass and racing past two only for a fantastic last-ditch Dominic Hyan tackle saving the visitors.
Back up the other end, makeshift wing-back Marcus Tavernier showed off his defensive qualities as he slid in to stop Jordan Shipley from tapping home from six yards.
Boro continued to huff and puff against the resilient Sky Blues but their reward finally came with nine minutes to go as Assombalonga beat the offside trap to meet Morsy’s throughball and slot home for his first of the season.
And they doubled their advantage in the dying seconds as sub Marcus Browne slipped one over the top for Spence to knock it past the onrushing keeper and make it two.
Boss Mark Robins said: “We are finding it difficult at the moment and we need to do basics better.
“We have not played football for six months, where the others are almost at mid-season now, that’s difficult. I’m not looking for excuses, but reasons are there.
“It’s a unique set of circumstances we are facing and we are still playing catch but we cannot afford to lose heart or confidence. But this is where you find your steel.
“These are good players and they will get better, but we cannot wait. But they have to not lose that confidence and keep going.”