SPAWNY AS! Jammy Boro were battered for long spells but scored twice on the break when under the cosh. Get in. A stonewall penalty is turned down, a ball comes back of the post hits the keeper and bounces wide then the best player on the pitch spoons a last gasp clearance to the feet of an unmarked Boro player six yards out from an open goal.
You have got to feel for Preston. That was as big an injustice as you will see this season but hey, we were due one.
They carved Boro open at times – especially down the left where both Bennett and Pogi had mares – and McManus and Wheater in the first half and that pair again plus Williams in the second made brilliant high-risk tackles in the box as Preston players prepared to shoot and twice Brad Jones made superb saves from Wallace.
In the first half Wallace, Chaplow and Brown ran riot. It seemed inevitable they would score against the mandatory disjointed Boro side (it was the turn of O’Neil, Arca and McDonald to be out injured) playing like strangers. Even Robson’s timing was off in the first half although his deliveries were still Boro’s most potent weapon. But somehow Boro kept them out – then scored in a rare first half foray forward when Killen headed in off the bar from a Robson free kick.
After the break Boro were brighter but it was still scrappy, spasmodic and shapeless. Long balls forward failed to stick with the effective Miller – cruelly dubbed Plankinho by press box wags – and came straight back. Preston continued to dominate and at one point they had 60% of the possession on the Sky Sports stats.
But again Boro somehow survived a stonewall penalty call – the ref had his whistle in his mouth and was running towards the spot before suddenly veering away – the Wallace volley against the post and a series of balls into the box before breaking out to seal it when Lita’s effort screwed off the keeper and was helped on to Jonathan Franks to poke home his first goal at the Riverside.
Some side issues…. rip up those betting slips… Sean St Ledger not only failed to score but he was, well, a bit rubbish. One looping header straight into Jones’ arms early on and a familiar cavalier run forward leaving gaps in his wake and after that he disappeared….. the player reported a blistering half time roasting that made their eyes water…. Bennett has missed a golden chance to stake a claim…. Miller isn’t anywhere near as good as Killen but he does have a two year contract…. at times in the opening spell it felt like and end of season dead rubber played before a meagre and bored crowd… Brad Jones wasn’t booed and he was chuffed to bits… the ref – Steve Tanner – was the one who gave the costly penalty at Hull for a non-foul by Wheater on Geovanni outside the box and helped Boro to relegation… Boro are still hanging on in there in the play-off scrum but with a six point gap still to make up it still is very much in the realms of theoretical mathematics.
It will take bucketfuls of lucky to help make up that gap.