JUST a quick one: I’m off out for a swifty at the Swatters Carr, the Northern League Boro’s old changies when they played at the Linthorpe Road ground. Yes, I’m “doing a Strachan” and resorting to drink to deal with the pressure of watching Boro squander a lead.
But first a quicky sketchy impression of Boro’s predictable capitulation to a bogey side. Boro 100% at home, Leicester pointless away… nailed on ‘typical Boro’ I suppose.
“Lucky” Leicester got a break today. First there was, both managers agreed, a question-mark over the first goal with what was said quite assertively by Boro’s dug-out and players to be an obvious offside. Personally I thought Nugent’s shot deflected off Bikey on the way through to Vardy so played him on.
And, both bosses agreed, there was another questionmark over the harsh free-kick that lead to serial sucker punch merchant Lloyd Dyer breaking free to screw a mega-spawny deflection off Friend. So yes, they were “lucky” in that sense.
But, that said, Boro were the architects of their own downfall because they never got the killer second goal to seal the game. Lukas Jutkiwicz stabbing against the bar from six feet out was the moment the game slipped away. Yes, Nicky Bailey’s laser guided rocket shot was a sizzler but it was only Boro’s second effort on target and for all the blunt probing and huff and puff throughout the game, a side with a very narrow and pedestrian midfield and only one up front never looked like being able to carve out chances convincingly.
Leicester weren’t fantastic but kept on plugging away and when Boro did that routine slo-mo retreat to their own 18 yard line again to invite pressure, a very dangerous game as we have found out to our cost on many occasions.
On balance, Leicester had the better of the chances throughout the game – and more of them – and but for Jason Steele’s Gordon Bankseque scooped save from a downward header (and a few other blocks) it could easily have been a far more emphatic defeat. And then ‘luck’ would have nothing to do with it.
Still, early days. Won four, lost four. This is a crazy and inconsistent league of erratic results and fine margins. Early days. Anyway…. beer calls. More later.
WELLY-wearing Boro aquaplaned to a splashing League Cup victory at a rain-lashed Deepdale. It was a hard-earned win over a spirited Preston wrung out of a soggy night that had ‘slip up’ written all over it.
Continue reading Preston Panned In Deepdale Deluge
BORO’S win at table-topping Blackburn was a thoroughly professional away day perfromance that went some way to banishing the sting of Blackpool and settle the nerves and steady the knocking knees of the early wobblers.
Blackburn were top, unbeaten and had won all their previous home games. But Boro made it look easy in beating them. They were strong and organised at the back, efficient and tidy in the middle and pacy going forward on the break and two well taken goals by Lukas Jutkiewicz earned a deserved victory for a hard-working side that looked up for it.
Boro were patient in possession as they probed for gaps then looked threatening as they exploited them. And they were effective at the back too, Woodgate and Bikey snuffing out the threat of big money goal machine Rhodes and the full-backs blocking Rovers’ attempts to get wide to provide crosses. It was a world away from Blackpool.
Scatter those stars around: Juke was excellent up front, Emnes looked bright and he and Carayol tore through Rovers’ defence in the first half. McEachran and Thomson used the ball well in the middle to retain the ball and probe and pick out holes and Leadbitter buzzed around and got forward to support quickly. Boro created some good chances and should have had it wrapped up earlier – but you can’t have everything
A good night’s work. A good week’s work in fact: yes, Blackpool was a bruising defeat but six points from three games in a tough week including trips to the top two puts Boro back on track, the first win on the road after three painful defeats ends any rising fears of some fundamental flaw or hoodoo and the spirited perfromance – and on TV too – will boost the flagging morale of some sections of the supporters.
It was great. More later.
WE SHOULD have known we were in for some cataclysmic event when a sinister sky turned Biblical black.
The game started ominously under a bruising, brooding shroud and suddenly, frighteningly, the heavens opened with swirling, stinging rain lashing down from all directions in a howling wind. If you believed in omens and portents, they were all there.
Continue reading Boro’s Biblical Battering At Blackpool
LUKE WIlliams’ family are in the money after their daft quid double on the Ginger Messi as first scorer in a 2-0 win came up at 50-1. Result. But for long spells as the clock ran down they looked very unlikely to be collecting. Seasoned Boro gamblers doing a Ray Winstone and betting in-play would have been piling into Ipswich to score the next goal.
With the visitors piling forward there was a scrappy spell in and around the Boro box with scrambles and slips and blocks and some frantic no-frills defending. Battle scarred Boro fans were groaning inwardly, expecting Ipswich to score at least one goal. Jason Steele made a couple of good saves, Jonathan Woodgate glanced a Chopra overhead effort over the bar (and got away with what looked a stonewall penalty as he hauled back Cresswell at a free-kick) and Boro were really struggling to get and keep the ball.
Then a quick ball forward from safe-hands assist king Steele sent parmo-powered speed king Muzzy Carayol streaking forward to seal it in stoppage time. The final 2-0 scoreline looks a lot safer than the game felt. It was a nervous finish and Boro made far harder work of seeing the game out than neccessary. Again.
But let’s look at the positives: last season that would have been a draw. Or worse. For all the jitters Boro kept a clean sheet, the first in the league this term. It was a solid show at the back with blocking machine and new boy Andre Bikey showing he is not just ‘a big unit’ but can play a bit too (there was one drag-back, turn and nut-meg by the corner flag which was what I believe young people call #tekkers). Woody did OK too. And Steele. And the full-backs worked hard too – although they needed to as the midfield crumbled when the pressure was on in the second half.
That makes three home wins on the bounce at home to help slowly build a platform at the Riverside. None of those victories have been overly convincing but, hey, three wins; nine points … that’ll do. Considering Mowbray is still nowhere near finding his first choice team – seasonal debuts for Carayol, Thomson, Bikey and Jutkiewicz mean Boro have used 24 players in the Championship already this term – his newly reshaped side have showed real promise. They pass the ball crisply, move well off it and create chances. There is pace and an attacking instinct. Add to that some extra steel at the back and it is the makings of a decent side in this league.
Of course, so far we have seen just flashes of 30, 45 or 60 minutes at a time and have yet to see them do it over a sustained 90 minutes. It’ll come. Early days.
HILLSBOROUGH: I’m not going to add to the emotive welter of words today. Anyone who follows me on twitter will know I’ve been soap-boxing for days about the scandal of the failings on the day, the institutional hostility to fans from the police, the systematic cover-up that followed and the wilful ignorance who supporters who swallowed the black propaganda and used the bodies to score points against Liverpool fans and smear the Justice campaign.
But to illustrate just how routinely supporters were treated like cattle here’s another chance to read a flashback I did a few years back to (one of) Ayresome’s near misses.
Continue reading Crush! Ayresome’s Near Miss
THE LOAN window opens on Saturday. A week later Boro resume Championship combat at home to Ipswich. At some point between those two markers, Tony Mowbray must resolve the strange case of Scott McDonald.
Continue reading The Strange Case Of Scott McDonald
STATiSTICS eh? Boro had the lion’s share of possesion and far more chances – but out of maybe a dozen shots on target nine were tame and straight at their keeper. From the best chances Boro failed to even hit the target: Haroun sent aneasy header screwiing wildly away from six yards out then Marvin out-did him by spooning over from eight yards with time and space.
In contrast, Millwall soaked it up, knocked some telling balls down Boro’s exposed and inviting flanks and put in crosses that caused chaos. Bang, bang, bang. An impressive and organised side playing to their strengths. Boro in contrast are a team still evolving. Some of the component parts are in place – the passing and movement is a joy at times and we are creating chances – but unless they are shaped into a more clinical weapon quickly we wil find ourself adrift.
Still, early days. No panic. Read on…
Continue reading Boro Mauled In Lion’s Den