Stoppage Time Sickener: No 9

WHEN Poundshop Heskey, Dele Adebola trundled on I posed the question: “in what minute of stoppage time will they get the equaliser?”
Defeatism? Resignation? Typical Boro cynicism? Maybe. But how bloody predictable, frustrating and sickening was it to be crushed once again by that icy inevitability? You would think by now we would be hardened to it, that repeated pain would put down layers of defensive armour, but we’re not. It still stings.

Having nullified one of the best teams in the division for so long and having left them punch drunk with what should have been knock-out blows we did it again.
Boro bossed the game. Their keeper made a sting of superb saves and somehow kept out a point-blank thunderbolt from Andrew Taylor and got down to tip away a sublime dipping Tony McMahon free-kick.
But having put in a stirring, pulsating second half display and having done more than enough to win the game it was scripted we would walk right on to a desperate flailing late haymaker, and that it would be a scruffy stud-scuffed shot from the bargain bucket Championship targetman-by-numbers that would do the damage.
It was pretty much a given too that the goal would come after a defence that had battled and tackled and covered ferociously all night failed to deal with a scrappy ball into the box. It has been a cypher for a frustrating season.
It was such a brass-necked mugging that even spiky Forest boss Billy Davies was moved to apologise, first personally on the touchline to a shell-shocked Mogga then again to the press.
“We didn’t deserve it,” he admitted, barely concealing a whelp of delight at the brazen theft of two precious points.
They didn’t deserve it? We didn’t deserve it! The fans – magnificent on the night, again – didn’t deserve to be emotionally tortured like that, teased to a dramatic state of expectation only to be kicked squarely in the gnashers.
How many times is that? That was the question being asked by the numbed refugees in the concourse and underpasses after seeing two points stolen
Well, it was the sixth goal we have leaked in the 90th minute and beyond into stoppage time this season.
And it was the ninth we have leaked after the 84th minute.
And that institutional fatal fade out – often in games we have dominated for long spells – has cost brittle Boro 11 points plus an FA Cup exit at Burton.
Those late blows in full:
Barnsley (a), August 28:
Boro were a goal down and pushing forward for the leveller when th lost possession in the middle and Adam Hammill picked it up and weaved through three unconvincing, tired challenges to pick his spot from inside the box.
Boro were already losing so while it put the tin hat on a dismal display, it had no bearing on the ultimate outcome.
Portsmouth (h), October 2:
Boro were 2-1 up when after a scuffle in the box, the referee misses Pompey’s Aaron Mokeona throwing a punch but the linesman spots Barry Robson’s reaction and the visitors are handed a Liam Lawrence leveller from the spot on 88 minutes.
That cost two points – and pushed Gordon Strachan right to the foot of the stairs to a partily assembled scaffold.
Swansea (a), November 14:
After two wins on the bounce Mogga’s side showed a new resolve and real spirit as they battled to successfully shackle Swansea’s polished passing machine of 84 minutes – then a weak Scott Sinclair shot that looked to be covered by Jason Steele took a deflection off David Wheater and went in.
That cost another point.
Doncaster Rovers (a), December 17:
Boro had scored early on through Scott McDonald in a dominant spell but Rovers had levelled before the break then the game seemed to be fizzling out – then three minutes into the Twilight zone of added time a ball was twice scrambled away to the edge of the box before Brian Stock lashed it through the crowd an although Steele got a hand to it at the foot of the far post it still slithered in.
That cost another point – and vital momentum after a good win over Cardiff.
Leeds (a), New Years Day
Boro scored early through David Wheater then dominated against a promotion chasing form-team for 80 minutes and had a string of good chances to kill them off – then a long ball forward was hopefully nodded into the box and when the defence stood rooted Steele rushed out to weakly clear before McCormack could pounce but the ball fell to unmarked Luciano Becchio who gratefully lashed home the leveller.
That late lapse cost two points.
Burton (a), January 8:
Boro were a goal up and cruising in the FA Cup 3rd round clash – only to go into free-fall as the League Two side clawed on back late on then on 93 minutes a weak free-kick fell short and clipped the shins of Matthew Bates and fell to Shaun Harrad to lash home.
Another Wembley dream bites the dust.
Preston (h), January 22:
Boro worked hard to get on top with a Matthew Bates strike and had chances to seal it when (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) in a frantic late flurry a cross bounces through the box on 88 minutes for Billy Jones to bundle home a far post header.
That cost two points and the chance to stuff Phil Brown’s Ronsealed mischief making down his throat and pretty much kill Preston off.
Swansea (h) February 12:
Two late lapses for the price of one: Boro were 3-1 up when Swansea stepped up a gear to claw one back but even then Boro looked good for a shock win – then on 88 minutes Steele failed to hold a low Scott Sinclair shot which squirmed in then four minutes into injury time Craig Beattie’s hit -and-hope effort squeezed inside the far post.
That was two points thrown away and other expensive bout of dentistry.
Forest (h), last night:
I won’t twist the knife again but had Andrew Taylor’s header gone anywhere else the point were in the bag. It dropped to trundling targetman Dele Adebola who’s poor first touch was enough to find space in the box before a scuffed shot broke our hearts again.
That cost two more points and a golden chance to record a first win over Forest on Teesside since December 1973. Yes, December 1973!
That is 11 points squandered in the final few minutes, and mainly in games we have bossed for long spells.
In the interests of journalistic balance it should be pointed out that Boro have also gained from late strikes – two against Burnley to win 2-1 at home, there was a last minute Lita penalty at Bristol with the game already dead and buried and at home to Palace Boro forced an own goal off McCarthy five minutes from time. That is four points gained.
But we are still seven points down on the deal.
If Boro could learn to by clinical, cynical and shut up shop by hook or by crook we would be sitting comfortably in mid-table now, the team would be more confident going into the red zones and we’d all still have finger nails.


61 thoughts on “Stoppage Time Sickener: No 9

  1. PeasePuddinginPerth –
    I agree with a lot of that, I would disagree with the Ronaldo penalty because Woodie admitted afterwards he caught him.
    There were two other Ronaldo dubious decisions that did wind me me up. There was the one where he trod on the ball and tripped up, no ones fault but the ref gave a penalty with no Boro player near him.
    Then there was the one where he conned a free kick by sticking his own leg out against Boat.
    The last one is the type of thing that should be reviewed retrospectively. May not be enough evidence to charge him but the fact it is being done would have an effect. There are enough obvious dives that sometimes are seen and others that get a free kick or penalty, nailing a couple of culprits will sharpen managers and players minds. It is the same with foul play.
    Another thing that winds me up is when a defender legs a player over 25 to 30 yards out. If the attacker needs treatment, and sometimes they need it after a sharp challenge, they have to leave the field. The attacking side plays with ten men whilst the defence line up with eleven to defend the free kick.
    Maybe the defender should stay off for the same length of time.

  2. PeasepudinPerth –
    One of the things FIFA always cite, particularly with regards to goal-line techonology is that the game should be the same at international level as it is at sunday league level, which is probably what they would use to dismiss any idea of a clock or other innovations.
    The argument is totally nonsensical though, and doesn’t even exist anyway, for example you get plenty of pub and junior games with no linesmen.

  3. After our goal I told my friend (a Forest fan) the would get an equalizer somewhere between 90 and 94 minute. Most probably a scrappy goal from a long ball.
    Hate to be proven right. The Forest fan enjoyed it, though…

  4. The 4-0 home win over Fleetwood Town was perhaps Darlington’s best display of the season as their good run of results and form continued.
    They have lost only one of their last 14 in all competitions while Cooper’s men are undefeated in ten at The Northern Echo Arena.
    I hope the same can be said of Boro some day. Preferably this season. At least the performance has been there recently. We need to start winning more matches though. Let’s keep positive.
    Up the Boro!

  5. I really don’t know what the answer is.
    I think it is now so deeply ingrained in the players pysche that soon as they see the last ten minutes go up on the clock the panic sets in and the away team sounds the cavelry charge.
    Three possible solutions to this:
    1. We sell the whole defence and bring a new, which are not effected by this Boro Pandemic – Not Likely
    2. The forwards for a change score some goals so we go into the last ten minutes with a two or three goal lead – Again Not Likely (Couldn’t hit a barn door springs to mind)
    3. The timekeeper cleverly keeps turning the clock back a minute everytime it hits 80 minutes, so when the players look up it always says 79 minutes; the ref then blows the whistle and panic is avoided – Can we legally do this?

  6. One for you AV – Perhaps a new thread? As you wish!
    Title – Where are the English creative players?
    Dear Mr. Bate (FA Elite Coaching Manager),
    I just today received my edition of ‘Insight’(FA Coaches Assoc Magazine) with the photograph of Gareth Southgate on the front (very nice!).
    I read the articles with interest as I have been (former Head Football Coach of the Technical Trainer’s College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and am involved with football coaching (member of FA Coaches Association). I’m also a previous season ticket holder of Middlesbrough FC and was in fact born in the town.
    I was delighted to read your article. I thought the idea was well expressed, extremely pertinent and the ‘coaching solution’ excellently described. However with over 30 years of playing experience and 45 years supporting and analysing the game, i would like to offer you an alternative viewpoint.
    There are few world class outstanding players. In fact I think you and I could probably put our heads together and name 20 maximum: Garrincha, Pele, Bobby Charleton, Tevez, Maradona, Messi, Paul Gascoigne to name but a small sample. However as you quite rightly point out, there are few if any British players (PG accepted) even in the current squad that can possibly come anywhere near this elite group. Who would get into a World XI?
    To suggest that you can coach a quality of football at that level is in my mind something like trying to bottle the giving spirit of Christmas. Could you bottle the ability of Messi or Ronaldino? I think not! I think even the great Sir Alex himself would chuckle at the thought. You can’t coach brilliance but you can coach it out.
    I believe the reason we are not producing creative players is:
    1. You can’t coach it.
    2. What spontaneity there is has been coached out from an early age.
    Now it’s all about systems and technical skills (as your article confirms) not about genius. Why? Because you can’t teach it.
    I haven’t looked at the research on ‘genius’ coming from our scientific community but then I don’t hold out much hope. I believe the key is to spot this rare commodity early on and let it flourish. Guide the player, nurture the player by all means but leave the coaching manual in the locker room. Why? Because the player will do it for himself/herself.
    This doesn’t mean the coach is redundant, it just means the coach has to know when to become involved and when to leave well alone. This is the element of coaching that can also be labelled ‘genius’. Don’t take my word for it, ask Senor Mouriniho.
    When Juninho was at Middlesbrough I watched him in the first game of a season at the Riverside. He took the ball from deep in mid-field and surged forward going past two or three players. Then he played the incisive pass only for Craig Hignett to stand looking at him and then the ball as if he were a rabbit in headlights on a dark night. I could just imagine poor Craig complaining to Bryan Robson at the interval ‘But we didn’t practice that one Boss! Soul destroying.
    Now if I could mention the England team……….

  7. Thinking back to last season’s visit to Reading and we are playing better now than we were then.
    At that time we were being beaten for fun at home with that dreadful run of three defeats in a row, all poor performances where we never looked like scoring that set the tone for much of what followed.
    One constant is that we had already dropped points with late goals at Bristol and Coventry.
    We then turned in a good performance to beat Reading 2-0. Reading are playing better now so I will be home for the Powls family to get a point in their home fixture

  8. Let’s take the positives out of this….
    Of the nine late lapses, one was in the Cup and two were during the previous regime. The remaining six reflect the way in which the team has improved under TM…let me explain
    Under GS, by the time we headed towards the final whistle we were usually down and out, pointless and beyond redemption
    Of the remaining six late league lapses, the first two saw away draws turn in to defeats as Mogga gradually steadied the ship and we began to become more competitive
    The third saw us batter Leeds away but fail to add a killer goal that would have sealed all three points and a late leveler stole the win we richly deserved. The fourth saw us batter Preston at home but lose two points (again) after failing to kill them off. We were no longer losing single points but were instead being denied wins – let’s recognize that that represents real progress
    The Swansea debacle came after the sale of David Wheater when we surrendered a two goal lead to throw away all three points. I think the loss of Wheater was keenly felt by the other players, by the team, and there was insufficient time to prepare the team psychologically or organizationally – the collapse was an accident waiting to happen
    The Forest game was a decent recovery after the QPR disaster. The performance was good, except and in so far as we failed to deliver the knock-out blow to one of the best teams in the division and surrendered two points to a late sucker punch
    Let’s acknowledge that losing two points to late goals rather than one represents real progress. Let’s acknowledge as well that the team/squad is weaker now than at any time for more than a decade. Even as TM rebuilds the building blocks have been pulled out of his foundation
    Given all of this, to achieve the progress that we have is nothing short of a miracle. Hopefully, as the season goes on, the number of late levelers will reduce and we’ll see more points secured with late winners of our own
    The progress is progressive and painful at times but in TM we have a leader who has proved his ability to know a good player when he sees one, and who can be trusted to make the maximum from the resources at his disposal. The real question is more to do with the ability of the chairman to give him the resources he needs next season to get us promoted

  9. To be fair to Higgy (spartak boro at 6.32pm last night), after they’d played some games together at least Higgy seemed on a similar wavelength to Juninho, albeit at a lower level of ability. Unlike some of the other players on the park at that time….

  10. The sooner Gibson sells the club the better. Hope the Thai steel company buy the club and pit some much needed investment into the club. The club neesds to be in the PL

  11. When the inevitable happened at 21.38 on Tuesday night, I actually suffered a physical reaction. It was an electric shock sensation that ran up my spine, all hairs stood on end, burning sensation in the eyes and feeling akin to a ten pin bowling ball being dropped in my gut. It still lingers.
    I must have uttered the two F words hundreds of times on the journey home.
    I would have felt better had we got beat 2-0.
    So lying awake in bed, unable to sleep, finally I had a Eureka moment.
    This is Ridiculous.
    Generally I am happy and healthy; I have a lovely family and two great kids. Why was I so desperate for something that I cannot control, and why should not getting it depress me for days afterwards??
    So last week I have taken a break from the Boro, I didn’t even listen to Reading on the radio or join in on the blog. I checked the scores on Saturday to find we were 4-1 down. It was surprisingly easy to shrug off, but had sympathy for the travelling fans and especially the local Boro fans who’ll be getting a good ribbing today.
    I am really in two minds about going tomorrow too. It is a massive game and the team need the fans. The performance on and off the pitch in the second half last Tuesday does us all credit. We were very good at times.
    But it is also Pancake Day, and that promises to be more fun. Also is it fair to not see the family all day, for them to make sacrifices so I can go to a match only to come home miserable? That’s not fair on anybody.
    Will we stay up? Well as long as we don’t go bust does it matter? Does anything?

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