BORO in “top of the league” shocker! For now at least. At times Boro made hard work of what was a routine 2-0 win over likeable but lightweight Doncaster and despite at times threatening to rip Rovers open in the first half somehow ended the game on the back foot and holding on to the clean sheet.
Boro showed their top flight quality in the box when it mattered with two well crafted goals – Tuncay netting clinically within a minute of entering the fray and Lita eventually as a reward for persistence in his personal battle with the linesman’s flag – and showed their impressive solidity at the back as they beavered away to repulse Rovers’ increasingly desperate forays forward, especially at the end.
But it was not as clear cut as it could and should have been. In the opening stages Boro bossed the midfield by closing down at tempo and forcing Rovers’ passing game to become ragged and error-strewn but as they game wore on they lost some of their fizz, stopped pressing so high up the pitch and found themselves on the back foot.
Maybe they also missed the energy and perceptive balls to the runners from Gary O’Neil, who has struggled with his hernia since the Scunthorpe game and will now go under the knife on Tuesday for his delayed operation. Certainly Julio Arca does not have the engines to play the O’Neil role in Boro’s high-tempo pressing game Boro have shown in the previous two games or the attacking instinct to pick out the pacy front men and his lack of match sharpness let him down at times while Rhys Williams was having to work hard to fill the gaps and was not so enterprising as in recent times.
Boro lacked a clinical edge up front too. They weaved some pretty passing patterns at pace and – especially after Tuncay and Adam Johnson got into their stride – showed some sublime skills and trickery going forward but at times they over-elaborated or chose the wrong final ball and let Rovers off the hook. Johnson got to the byline in the box but with Yeates arriving unmarked a the far post the flanker cut it back for Lita who was crowded out before he could shoot while Tuncay had a great opportunity to unload in the second half but instead played in wide to Lita who poked straight at the keeper.
Still, another three points in the bag, some goals at home, unbeaten start, four clean sheets on the bounce for the first time since the Pearson powered Robbo promotion team of 1994/95 got off to a sprint start, Tuncay given the chance to shine and score (and nudge potential buyers) and cult hero in waiting Leroy got off the mark… so mustn’t grumble. Far from it in fact, there’s plenty to buzz about, especially if you can fall short of your best and still win comfortably.