BATTLING Boro clawed from behind for the third time in four games to grab a deserved draw that left the crowd buzzing like we’d won: smells like team spirit.
And it was a really robust rumble too. A real scrap against a fiesty Foxes side that set out to rough up a makeshift Boro side. Right from the off Yakubu threw his weight about with a couple of steam-rollering tackles on Tony Mcmahon and Seb Hines before being faced down by Andrew Davies who went toe-to-toe with him for over an hour, grappling and shouting and snarling and flying into tackles. It was a real war of attrition.
There were eight yellows – seven of them for Leicester – and a red too. And that was with a weak referee. There could easily have been more with a more draconian official. Andy Haines of Tyne and Wear – Swindon fans have launched a facebook campaign to ensure he never refs them again – had a mare.
He started badly and had peaked too early. He sprinkled wrong decisions in his wake for the full 90 and both managers had reason to complain. Leicester’s second should have been ruled out two-fold, firstly as in a devious move Davies was deliberately obstructed as he ran to attack the header to the back stick and then at Kamara blocked off keeper Paul Smith as he tried to claw away the ball dropping at the far post.
Leicester had their complaints too. The penalty was harsh. a shot into a crowd box clipped Bruma as he tried to turn away and it was given as handball. We’d be screaming about an injustice if it was against us. And there were a string of either/ors that were given Boro’s way. McMahon was lucky not to be spotted having a sly dig at an attacker in a crowded box, Davies rattled the Yak a few times and got away with it.
Leicester fans were certainly more impassioned in their roasting of the ref and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing.” That said, Leicester were taking a lend of him; when the Yak was booked he refused to go to the ref who eventually had to sheepishly trudge over to him; they took it in turns to foul and protest; when Kamara was subbed, to waste time he strolled over to the ref to shake his hand… and the naive man in black accepted the gesture and reciprocated.
But in the heat of battle Boro didn’t wilt. They stood up to the physicality and fought back from behind. At 3-1 down it looked like game over – and in the dark days of Strachan it could easily have led to an implosion – but this new look Boro are made of sterner stuff. There is a real belief there now and after Rhys Williams sparked the revival with a goal that combined class and composure with sheer determination it was Leicester who started to shrink and stutter as Boro turned the heat up.
Zemmama hit the post, Arca missed the penalty – it was poor, a hesitant run up and struck at a “nice” height for the keeper – then Emnes rattled the upright too. Boro got the ball quickly forward and insistant and forced jittery Leicester into mistakes and the pressure finally told as Stephen McManus sent home a bullet header. How often has the boot been on the other foot this season? Another box ticked.
A few other observations:
The inevitability drive was in overload as Yakubu not only scored but grabbed a “hat-trick” (there was some dispute over the second but Sven hinted afterwards that Yak had put the evil eye on Sol Bamba and made it quite clear he was claiming it.) That said, plenty of we shrewd punters had put a slice of the Danny Graham dividend on Yak as first scorer at 11/2. Result.
Boro had only one player in the starting line-up from the reverse fixture, Boro’s first away game back in August. That was Scott McDonald, although McManus was on the bench. Leicester had only three of the same starters: Weale, Wellens and Oakley. And it was all change in the dug-outs too with both sides having complete new staff.
Julio Arca was skipper… the seventh player to wear the armband this term. and he has had a sensible haircut too, a functional number one. Sheared.