WHAT A game! What a team! What a brilliant start to the festive fixture flurry. When the story of the season is told – and if there is a happy ending – that is one of the key moments we will point to. And laugh with glee.
A positive, polished second half show swept Boro to a fantastic coupon-busting win in a top of the table seasonal sizzler at Cardiff. Cardiff were unbeaten in 11 and had won six in a row at home and kept three clean sheets on the bounce. Boro were forced into changes, e without Marvin Emnes, gave a new striker his first start in English football and were playing an experimental 4-3-1-2 system.
We had travelled to Wales with trepidation. Here be Dragons. Their fans and officials were buzzing before the game and totally convinced they would win. But then again, they were last time we visited too, so much so that before the game they issued the press with details and timings of their planned lap of honour. We laughed the way home. All five hours. Party poopers again. LOL. As I believe the young people say.
It wasn’t an easy win, far from it. Boro’s opener from new boy Bart Ogbeche was sweetly struck and well deserved but it did come against the run of the early play.
Cardiff pumelling Boro for long spells with Peter Whittingham’s dead ball deliveries causing all kinds of chaos in the box with jittery Jason Steele adding to the confusion with another couple of nervous fumbles, poor punches and a lack of communication.
He also wiped out prematurely aged McNaughton as he charged out to challenge for a ball into the box. It looked as clear cut a penalty as any you will see this season.
They levelled with an unchallenged header from Ben Turner and then went ahead as sleepy Rhys Williams was bundled off the ball then Gunnarson ran into the box untracked to welly home a superb cheeky back-heel from Kenny Miller just before the break.
At that point it was hard to see how Boro would get back into the game. It was cold and miserable and it looked like a very long five hours home.
But in the second half Boro were far more assertive. Nicky Bailey and Barry Robson got a grip of midfield, stopped Whittingham pulling the strings and started to push play deeper into the Cardiff half.
They got the ball forward quickly with Justin Hoyte looking lively down the right and Haroun and Arca pressing forward more playing good balls behind the Cardiff defence.
The leveller was a cracker. Superbly engineered, well worked and simple. A delightful perceptive ball from Bailey sent Hoyte into the box on the right and he cushioned a ball to the near post for reignited McDonald to stroke home his fifth goal in seven games.
The winner was good too. A poor ball by Robson played Arca into trouble but he recovered to control the ball and chip neatly to the far post where Haroun had appeared unmarked and with everyone willing him to head it he instead chested it calmly down and slotted the ball through the keeper’s legs.
It was the usual torrid finish as Cardiff piled forward in TEN minutes of added time but I was never nervous. Or possibly I was numb with cold by that point. Whatever. We held on.
Two points off the top. Another mooted in-form rival dented. Three wins in a row. Goals flowing again. The Mogganaut rolls on. Merry Bloody Christmas.
Comments imported from last night’s emergency hosting on Gazettelive:
AV, a great win. More pleasing than the win at Cardiff in the spring time. We spoiled their chances then but we’re already safe then.
Now we have a lot to play for (as they did, too) as we go for the pr*****on. So what a performance! I think we played better in the first half already but let two goals in easily. But we kept the ball more and irritated the home team.
I missed the second half (I was visiting my daughters and had promised them a night out). So what a feeling to take a peep in the mobile at the restaurant and see that Boro had won.
This was very, very important win morally. We have a top match next against Hull now. Hope we get a similar performance as at Hull in April. The Riverside crowd would deserve it. But again it won’t be easy.
Up the Boro!
Cardiff deserved the 3points.
RED ARMY RED ARMY .
Fantastic result and hopefully many more like it to come .
Just read in the Sunday Mirror that Billy Sharp has a 1.75 m buy out clause in his contract and must be worth considering at that price
Great, great result, especially so for Bart’s first and the assists from Hoyte and Arca. Appreciate it is a year too late but I couldn’t help but chuckle at this YouTube contribution based on last year’s Cardiff game. How they must hate us
Season’s greetings. Up?