BORO lost their way in the fog in a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to basement boys Bristol City. As the eerie b-movie wispy white shroud inched in over the East Stand roof it became harder to see the shape, the dynamic and the logic of what was happening on the pitch. There was no focus, no clarity, no sharpness.
It was like that game at Ayresome against Manchester City when the fog poured in from the floodlights like dry ice at a Spinal Tap concert raising real fears that the game would be abandoned before wierdly, suddenly dispersing . Only this time we lost.
Ironically, the fog was at its thickest when Boro were on the attack. Having clawed back into it when Big Ish poked home from six yards out – his longest distance goal yet – Boro were piling on the pressure and had what looked a good goal as their keeper flapped at yet another wicked inswinging corner from Leadbitter pushing it via a defender’s back onto the post and it bounced back and over the line before Kilkenny clawed it out.
For me that is well over the line but in the fog of war and the chaos of a crowd in the box the ref and lino – Sian Massey who apparantly got some serious unreconstructed sexist stick for her mistake – it was waved away.
Then, with Boro piling forward Bristol piled forward, sent a diagonal stealth cross looming out of the mist into the box to score a second. Then, with Teesside imploring the gods of wintery precipitation to deepen the peasouper and get the game off, it suddenly, inexplicably lifted. Bloody typical.
Pushing forward chasing the leveller they got caught again. Ouch. Bristol City had only scored six away all term, had only won one away game – at rock bottom Peterborough – and had just come off a run of seven successive defeats. And they scored three against Boro and rattled the bar plus brought a couple of good saves. It was fated. The only surprise is that Matthew Bates didn’t play and score.
It wasn’t for want of trying. Boro started with two up front and Emnes and Ledesma wide so set up with plenty of attacking intent and had the ghost goal stood we would have won it and gone away breathing a sigh of relief and chuntering about how it was scrappy as hell but wed’ have taken it.
As it happens, most went away frustrated and disappointed. There was some booing, incrediibly some aimed at a Boro player – Kevin Thomson – before he had even touched a ball…. I can never get my head around that self-defeating pre-emptive disdain … and with many pointing accusing fingers at selection, shape and tempo afterwards.
Admittedly it was far from a classice display. Both full-backs were regulary roasted by the pace of Bristol on the break (Adomah was very impressive again) and the central-defensive pairing was creaky. Up front it didn’t quite gel – although with a better header from Jutkiewicz for the sitter early on and it would have been a different game. Miller scored but was generally ineffective up front – although he looked far better as a wide left player later on when his pace and power several times took him surging into the box.
So Boro lost. It’s no disaster. Yes it was to a team in the bottom two but it happens. And it must be said, they worked very hard to contain Boro’s massed attacks and looked very sharp on the break with quick diagonals putting pressure on Boro’s full-nacks. And in a karma-type balance, Bristol have also beaten Cardiff and Palace this term so there is a certain perverse democracy about the result. The important thing is to bounce back from this wobble – one point from three games – and build another long unbeaten run.
The biggest set-back was political. It wasn’t a great spectacle for the bumper BOGOF crowd – the second biggest gate of the season – that had responded to the club’s ticket offer. It wasn’t the worst game ever – it was end to end stuff and the fog made the game funny and one for the memory banks – but it wasn’t the resounding victory and pulsating atmosphere that the Sheff Wed game was. But that is what you get in this league.
On to Huddersfield now. We need to win that one to get the Mogganaut rolling again.