The Play-Offs Are Great – From The Outside

LET’S see what you could have won…

As a neutral and eager observer I’m enjoying the Sky Sports trailers for the looming Championship play-offs: four top teams in a tense tussle for the ultimate prize. High-stakes home-and-away encounters leading to a winner-takes-all £170m shoot-out under the iconic Arch.  It looks like a brilliant cut-throat competition full of action, and drama and colour and heightened emotion.

Thank god we are not in it.

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Boro To Run Over Brum on Drive To The Top

A FIXTURE clash has ruled me out of the not-as-pivotal-as-it-looked-last-week-but-still-MASSIVE crunch away at Birmingham.  Gutted but it can’t be helped. I’ve got a long standing date in London and the small screen scheduler’s randomiser has caught me out. It’s only the second match missed in five seasons. But I’ll be watching on  the telly-box and tweeting. And I’m sure the rest of the Gazette posse will look after you. Follow them on the live blog and all the usual stuff will be on the web-site straight after the game.

To keep you going here’s the Gazette match preview and there is some top chinwaggery here on the latest Tripe Supper podcast here for you to disagree with on the trip down.  And as we head to the climax here is a bit with us all imagining a dream finish to the cut-throat Championship race. Mine features a little lego tear.

So usual drill…  only I won’t be around after the game so you’ll have to talk amongst yourself. No fighting.  Predict away. I’m going for a 3-0 win to put Boro back on top, pile the pressure on the other son Monday and put promotion – and the title – firmly in Boro’s hands next week. Ramirez first scorer. Jonathan Grounds to give away a penalty. Rhodes to score. And Dani Dani Ayala. Clayton to avoid his booking.  And I think my pre-match meal will be venison with a port and redcurrent reduction and juniper foam.  Hmmmm.

COME ON BORO

Frustrated Boro Fail To Land Suffolk Punch

IT WASN’T for want of trying but a golden chance to turn the screw at the top has been squandered. Boro beavered away, no one could deny that. They ran and chased and pressed and attacked and attacked and attacked some more and a few of the players were running on empty at the end with cream crackered Albert Adomah out on his feet.

In a frustrating 0-0 draw with Ipswich Boro created more than enough golden opportunties to win two games but they couldn’t convert one of them and had to settle for a draw that left a tense Teesside on tenterhooks, empty-handed and frustrated.

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Last Gasp Goal In Tense Tussle At Turf Moor

ALL a bit of  blur and I’ve barely slept so for now I’ll just point you the way of our match digest after a last gasp sucker punch squared it up in a 1-1 draw at Burnley. 

And here’s my colour bit on how agonisingly close we were to seizing control of the Championship title battle. Still, decent point and we’d all have taken it beforehand. As you were: win our home games and we’re up. Win the next two and we could be up before the Brighton game. And if it comes down to a last day shoot-out so be it.

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Meanwhile, with the summit squeeze still in flux going into the final three fixtures, I’ve had the calculator and slide rule out looking at how and when Boro can go up and here’s my working out of most of the possible permutations in the promotion push.

Continue reading Last Gasp Goal In Tense Tussle At Turf Moor

Bolton Battle Piles The Promotion Pressure On

I HAVE domestic stuff so just a quick one.  Stoppage time specialists Boro made hard work of what should have been a formality against Championship zombie side Bolton but kept plugging away and got the winner relatively early in Forshaw time (90+1).

In the end it was well deserved. And given the relentless pressure in the closing stage it felt inevitable. Jordan Rhodes had already put a strange slow-motion overhead kick against the post and headed wide and string of other efforts went within a whisker.

Boro showed desire and real spirit to come from behind and first force a leveller then a winner through sheer will power. It spoke of character and hunger and belief. And maybe a bit of good fortune too. And they are all parts of the promotion skill set.

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The Fogs Of War: Boro Show Bottle And Battle

UNLEASH the fogs of war…

As the mists that shrouded the Riverside Stadium cleared and the debris of a furious battle was cleared away, a drained Boro side could smile and proudly survey the scene of a famous victory.

Passionate Boro showed the bottle and battle, the hunger and the ruthless desire needed to win things. By hook or by crook. By sheer force of will. By somehow getting over the line by sweat-soaked industry and fierce mental strength no matter how bruised and drained the bodies and no matter how long it takes.

They may have left it late to write off Reading in the tightest of 2-1 wins but it was worth the wait. It could prove a watershed. It could turn out to be the moment Boro seize control of the Championship promotion race.

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Boro Had To Win Ugly But The Points Look Beautiful

IT WASN’T one for the purists... unless you are a fan of pure thud and blunder, toe-to-toe, lower league attritional combat.

It was far from pretty. Boro had to win ugly. And they did. Pug ugly. The second half was a pock-marked, one-toothed, medieval hag of a game and it won’t take up much time on the end of term DVD.

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Boro Put Bite On Terriers To Launch Premier Push

THE GAME was scripted as being a product placement for Football’s Inevitability Drive.

Everything was set up for Huddersfield legend Jordan Rhodes to prove the iron rule that a former favourite will become a Nemesis and finally score his first Riverside goal.

Who was to know that it would be another old boy that would play the decisive role in Boro’s commanding 3-0 win over Huddersfield.  Dean Whitehead….  come on down.

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