Posh Spice Up Scrappy Boro Win

OH NO! BORO in “doing it the hard way against rock bottom side” shocker!
With a display that almost wore out the “typical Boro” catchphrase, Tony Mowbray’s side only just salvaged a narrow, nerve jangling 3-2 win at cellar dwelling Peterborough.
Hot on the heels of the unlikely implosion at Birmingham, a fragile looking Boro once again threw away a commanding lead to descend into a scrappy mess at the back. Once again they showed some crisp movement to take control early on before inviting pressure and handing the initiative – and goals – to a limited but hard-working side.

And once again they slipped from swaggering dominance into a nervous looking side brittle at the back, unable to convincingly clear their lines or relieve the pressure.
At Birmingham that self-inflicted stumble towards shapelessness came through a string of individual errors that undid a sizzling first 45 and led to a costly and preventable defeat.
At Peterborough it was more a case of tactical jitters. Boro invited the opposition forward to create space to hit them on the break but it almost backfired when their hosts’ attacks twice paid dividends and clawed them not just level but briefly into the ascendency.
As at home to Bristol – another side firmly anchored in the drop zone – Mowbray shaped his side to exploit a perceived weakness and got caught. Against Bristol, Boro disappointed and lost. This time they disappointed at times – but got away with it. Just.
And the way the game unfolded will have no doubt used up precious winter stockpiles of Teesside cynicism. Anyone following the game via Sky Sports Soccer Saturday will have no doubt have sighed in resignation – and sworn a bit – after being misinformed by Jeff and the boys: “there’s been a goal at London Road – and it’s gone to Peterborough!”
Of course it had. Boro were away to a side that had taken one point from 21, had lost eight at home, had not come from behind to take even a single point all season, who had leaked eight in their last two home fixtures and who – let’s be frank – are going to be relegated. What else would you expect to happen?
That would have been a catastrophic blow to morale and the promotion points curve.
In fact, a late face-saver from Ishmael Miller had salvaged some pride and the three precious points that should have been nailed on from the moment the first goal flew in.
After a frustrating spell of sickening nerves, an icy fear of impending disaster and rising anger levels, suddenly the travelling supporters – almost 2,000 and a third of the total crowd – finished the game with a jubilant air-punching EIO and all was forgiven. Almost.
The game pointed to what could be an Achilles heel for Boro’s promotion hopes. They have now lost to three of the Championship’s current bottom six – the B-Movie horror triple bill of Barnsley, Bristol and Brum – and have only just wriggled off the hook against basement boys Peterborough.
That will have to change. Boro can’t afford to drop points against the Legion of the Damned in such cavalier fashion . We need a ruthless edge against the trapdoor dancers if we are to be in with a shout.
On the plus side, no matter how chaotic, it was a win and that represents progress. Boro’s mid-match mayhem and surrender of the lead ended in defeat last time out so shoring it up, regaining momentum and clawing to a victory is a big box ticked.
A second successive empty handed slump would ring alarm bells and suggest a more fundamental flaw and lead to real panic among punters..
And it is progress in terms of Boro’s recent record at Peterborough too.
Gordon Strachan’s side twice let the lead slip – two Dave Kitson goals in that week or so when he really fancied it – to draw 2-2 to a relegation bound Posh powered by Biblical giant throw-in machine Exodus Geoghagon then last term Boro dominated for an hour and lead to a Scott McDonald strike before they levelled with a stunning late ‘worldie.’
And, it must be said, Boro played well in patches.
In fact, for the first half hour they played with a real simmering threat as they sat deep and surrendered possession to lure Posh forward then scythed through them on the break with the pace Scott McDonald and Marvin Emnes and the surging runs of Faris Haroun looking a potent cutting edge. It all went to counter-attacking plan.
And in the last 20 minutes a resurgent and reshaped Boro – with super-sub Ishmael Miller leading the line superbly with pace and power – grabbed back control and in the end they could have had another goal or two to make the scoreline respectable and a more accurate reflection of the likely end of term positions.
And they were all good goals too. The well engineered breaks that set up the early strikes by Haroun were counter-attacking master-classes.
Firstly a sweeping move forward out after defending a corner featured a sublime diagonal ball from Emmanuel Ledesma to send McDonald away to draw the defence before deftly squaring for the unmarked Belgian to drill home the opener.
Then after another surge, an Emnes touch sent Stuart Parnaby over-lapping down the right to whip a perfect cross to the far side for unmarked Haroun to steer in the second.
Posh hit back with an unstoppable shot from distance then scrambled a leveller after Boro failed to clear before Miller rifled in a wonderful winner.
Just three minutes after coming on Big Ish – whose previous three goals have come from a cumulative total of six yards – collected a pass from Richie Smallwood, turned inside his man to find space on the edge of the box and cracked into the bottom corner.
Miller has his critics, many who made their assessment before the ink was dry on his contract, but he has looked an ever improving potent and physical presence in his recent outings and has scored four goals and got two assists in his 640 minutes so far: not a bad return in the equivalent of seven games.
The win will settle nerves. It was shaky at times but Boro resisted some heavy pressure, did not crack when they leaked the goals and were mentally tough enough and tactically flexible enough to change the dynamic and hit back to win. It keeps Boro well placed.
As fans we will agonise about it, worry the game has deep seated significance and see fatal flaws in the team that struggles against the Dead Men Walking but ultimately it is three points in the bag and that is all that matters.
Asked about the need to end the recent wobble an indignant Jonathan Woodgate hit back: “Wobble? What wobble? We’re third!”
And that’s the big picture: what counts is where Boro are over 10 games, 20 games, over the season as a whole, not over the last three, four or five games.
It was far from a classic. It wasn’t Boro’s best display.
“We’ll play better and lose” the cliche goes: well Boro played better at Cardiff and somehow came away empty handed. At Birmingham they played a sustained spell of Teesside tiki-taka for 45 mesmerising minutes but lost.
At Peterborough it fell far short of perfection. But they won.


28 thoughts on “Posh Spice Up Scrappy Boro Win

  1. A the end of the day, it was 3 points won. Better than playing well at Cardiff but still losing to the team that may be our competitors for promotion at the end of the season. It’s a results game, they say, and we got the right result. Phew !!!

  2. When I read the original post by AV, it was 4 paragraphs long. I typed a very short one-paragraph reply, pressed the send button and then got the usual message: “your post has been received by the blog owner….please press to go back to the blog page”.
    I did that, and NOW there are 12 paragraphs to the blog article. The paragraphs have been interbreeding. Spooky.
    **AV writes: Wait until most pe4ople log on at work on MOnday morning and it is a NOVEL! It is powered by literary cold fusionj.

  3. Wasnt at the game so im just wondering… I think its very important when you get leads you start defending it from the front. Did the front players work hard enough up top to stop any supplies? I do wonder about the likes of Emnes when you need this type of game,
    My other concern is,you usually you start seeing patterns as the season unfolds,and teams at the top start putting 3-0,4-1,2-0 ,3-1 results together ,in other words winning easily, Can we do that?
    **AV writes: Emnes was quiet after the first 20 minutes of so and looked a bit rusty but I don’t think you can fault McDonald’s work-rate and when Big Ish came on he was a Trojan up front. His energy turned the game back our way.

  4. Someone have a word with Mr Miller. If he isnt careful he will make a mess of his statistics, twenty yards? Unheard of.

  5. My first viewing of Boro this season in the flesh. My immediate view was the space given to the opposition. They allowed POSH to play their way back into the game. Things needs tightening up, big time.
    It will not be as easy to score against other teams.
    That said, they looked like they could lose and ended up winnng.
    Millers physical game made a massive difference after the lightweight Emness was substituted.
    The two games you refer to from the last two seasons have seen Peterborough score wonder/fluke goals. Their first goal on Saturday was another great strike.
    Bottom line – 3 points!

  6. It was good to have Woodie back, his experience and nous will help us to stop conceding silly goals and to keep hold of leads.
    Shame that Palace managed to get a draw but third is fine by me. Bizarre that we have lost three games to sides in the bottom six, it seems we did our best to give a helping hand to Posh yesterday.

  7. We took an early 2.0 lead and it was a case of “how many will we get?” But no! Typical Boro form reared its ugly head,the players thought the game was won after 20 mins and let Peterborough back into the game.
    They gave them far too much of the ball and let them play. Do that regularly against a better team and they can kiss goodbye to any chance of promotion. The players have to be far more professional than that.
    Bikeys performance yesterday showed why Rhys Williams will be straight back in the defence as soon as he is fit. Emnes is a waste of space and I cannot see what he brings to the team at all. What exactly is his role?
    All he seems to do when he has the ball is run wide, check back, slow the game down and ends up on his backside rolling around clutching something in agony, that’s if he hasn’t already lost the ball. I’d play every other striker we have before him,he has no fight or determination in him at all with poor work rate!
    Nice to see Haroun get a couple yesterday and for Miller to come off the bench and get the winner.
    Like Tony said we’ve played better and lost but continue like yesterday then we will lose more than we will win!!

  8. never give up –
    Emnes is what he is.
    In the last post we discussed Robbo and his bulging eyes approach to football. Emnes looks the exact opposite.
    Last season Emnes had some games where he played in the hole behind the front two. Whenever he lost he ball following a drag back or twirl he shrugged his shoulders and meandered back after the ball.
    Whilst the styles are different, Joe Cole and Emnes have the ability to excite and frustrate in equal measure.
    What we should not forget is the fact he will care about the games. I am of the view the vast majority of footballers care but you cant make them what they are not. You can expect a contribution.
    Swansea next and a good gesture about coach travel. A decent performance, injuries, no extra time and and a win will do!

  9. Right result in the end but the soft underbelly was still there. Our goal difference column tells the tale. We don’t make our superiority count when on top in games and cannot close out the defence when in the ascedency.
    With the experience of Parnaby, Woodgate, Scotty and Leadbitter, there should have been enough street smart on the pitch to organise and calm things. In fairness to Mogga his subs linked up well to produce an unspectacular but effective and relieving winner.
    Whatever has happened since the MOM curse needs to be addressed and quick. Perhaps its a touch of self important arrogance or maybe as in the case of Emnes its a confidence issue. Something is clearly not clicking and the return of Friend and Rhys cannot come too quick.
    One thing which is clear to me is that Miller and McDonald are the best strike pairing. They both seem to get their goals when the other is on the pitch. The Juke runs and chases a lot but seems to need three touches to control the ball by which time he is closed down and his heading ability is questionable especially when under pressure. Miller is less mobile but more simplistic and direct in his approach and although less entertaining seems to be a perfect foil to Scotty and vice versa.
    Marvin is back to that dark place he was in when GSII was in charge, if anyone can coax him out it is Mogga but he must now start to produce consistently as intermittent three month bursts are of no use to the lad at this stage of his career.
    Like the Sunderland game Wednesday at Swansea is simply a run out and let the lads see what they can do in terms of benchmarking themselves. I hope they have fun but Saturday and three points at home to Wolves is where my focus and interest is right now. If Mogga picks Marvin on Wednesday lets hope his return to the place of his re-birth has the same effect this time around.
    This “non wobble” is going to end sometime and I suspect an improvement on the injury front will see more stability as well as options for Mogga. The fact we are lying in third place and just three points off second place and automatic promotion during our worst phase of the season isn’t exactly disastrous.

  10. When will George Friend be fully fit.
    **AV writes: He was an outside possibility for Peterborough so can’t be far away. I’d expect him to be on the bench at Swansea and starting again for Wolves.

  11. Redcar Red –
    A slight tweak about Emnes. He is where he was when he arrived under GS1 and GS2 could do no better.
    I remember posting that it was Emnes who controls how he plays. Different players have different attributes but some can have an iffy match but look fine because of the way they play.
    A player such as Roy Keane had a good range of passing and attacking skills but if he was bit under par he was busy and effective playing it simple. Boat struggled if under par because his distribution was never his strong point.
    Emnes languid style does him no favours when he loses the ball.

  12. Three points is three points.
    Lucky for us some around us also dropped points which has aloud us to catch up.So yes Swansea next but a win against Wolves more important.
    We seem to be getting some bodies back now which is a bonus with so many games being played this time of the year.

  13. Perhaps I misunderstood the runes? I thought the Blog would be suspended for 3 weeks as a result of the general merriment and celebrations following the result of the X Factor competition.
    You know the score – 12 page spread in the Gazette, all journalistic leave and other projects cancelled whilst James Arthur-related stories are milked.
    “Right, Vickers, I’d like you to get down to Saltburn. I know you won’t like this but I want you to hang around the Victoria, find out any snippets of information, find out who he drinks with, buy them a pint or two, get the lowdown on him…what’s he like?”
    “Phil – go round his local school…see what the teachers can remember about him. Try the music teacher…’I always knew he’d make a career in music..it’s often disregarded but should be central to the curriculum’…and see whether they’ve got any photos of him playing sports…not a nerd but an all-rounder.”
    “Economics correspondent (Yeh, I know, I’d forgotten we had one, too…) dig around a bit, find out what the numbers might mean for an act exploding on the scene with all the national publicity generated by a prime-time show. How much can you make these days with a number-one hit, and might it have ripples that could affect the local economy – we’re not all chemical workers up here, now. Maybe a view on the local Parmo industry and how, now Nicole is a fan, they can take over the world? ”
    “Arts correspondent (Stop sniggering, you lot near the Sports Desk!): you can trade in the tickets for Covent Garden because you’ll be spending some time on Teesside. I need articles showing how our hero made his first steps in the local music scene, the gigs, the venues, the various genres he’s toyed with as he came into the spotlight.
    “Maybe interviews with the bigger acts he supported at the Pitch Invasion at Hartlepool’s ground in August? Actually there are plenty of grannies and granddads out there who don’t know much about the local music scene so perhaps you can give an overview?”
    “Political Correspondent – Oy! Wake up! Just because you’ve covered the Middlesbrough by-election doesn’t mean you can go back to sleep for 2 years! I’ve seen some mention of a Peoples Republic of Teesside, and the Red Faction (not sure if they’re the same thing) in that bloggy thing that Vickers does.
    “Some research please – is this success a sign of a vibrant ‘Teesside Nation’ (Or is that an echo of something I once heard a Geordie bloke say?) poking its head out in a political desert?”
    “A sign of a growing separatist movement flexing its young muscles? A sign of Hercules throwing off its Tyne/Wear shackles? Some say ‘not Yorkshire’, all say ‘not Geordie’, so I want you to look at the long term ramifications here. Parallels with Catalonia, Scotland, Quebec? Should be scope for a whole series of articles there…”
    “Can we set up a concert at the head of Saltburn pier? Are we now going to have to pay for interviews with our local lad? Will the next gap in his diary be sometime next September? Must all enquiries now be routed through Simon’s office? – get it sorted out!”
    To come back to earth, does this all mean that we will have to tune to SSN to get news of the Swansea v Boro cup game, and for all other games in the next couple of months? Has all other news been “trumped” by Mr Arthur?
    Or can we fuse the strands of these national developments: for example, are you opening a competition to guess the first words he’ll speak when presented to the Riverside at the first convenient Boro game? It must be exciting times at the Gazette, these days. Something for the autobiography?
    **AV writes: I offered my Gramscian essay on X-Factor as a dark modern Faustian tale played out as a pantomime on the 15 minute fame production line but, sadly, it was declined.

  14. Still, there’s always the guitar lessons – my brother-in-law teaches guitar!
    Actually he only moved away from Saltburn a few years ago…I wonder if he might have been instrumental (if you’ll forgive the pun).

  15. When we went 2-0 up half way through the first half I thought we were in for a nice relaxing afternoon on the terrace sipping Bovril and watching a four niller. Unfortunatley so did the team, they lit a collective cigar and put their feet up and before we knew it, it was 2-2.
    We seized the initiative back after that, played higher up the pitch and put pressure on their defence, hence taking pressure off ours. Miller took his chance well, job done, just.
    Emnes was poor, either he’s not up to speed yet or something else is amiss. I thought Ledesma was weak, at one point he was doing his laces when one of his strike partners crossed the ball into the box for him. I thought the bloke stood in front of me was going to spontaneously combust!
    Maybe playing Emnes in Ledesma’s position and putting Juke or Miller up front is the way forward for Wolves?
    At 2-2 the mood on the terrace was not good, I believe the damage to moral from drawing/losing would have had far worse consequences than dropping three points. Hopefully we can build some more momentum now, every team has a bad patch, Cardiff and Palace will have theirs hopefully ours is behind us. Christmas programme coming up, Friend on his way back and Rhys too, bring it on! Carayol back in the New Year will be an asset also.
    I love going to Peterborough, a proper terrace and a cup of Bovril, that’s proper footie.

  16. Nigel –
    We dont want Emnes with midfield responsibilities.
    Bobby McFerrin predicted the arrival of Marvin to the football world when he wrote ‘Dont worry, be happy’ in year Marvin was born (1988).

  17. Our defence and our defending have deteriorated very markedly in the space of a year. Last season’s early success was very much based on sound defence. With our lack of creative guile and attacking penetration, our tactics were founded on keeping out the opposition and counter-attacking.
    How things have changed. We now have an unstable and leaky defence with one of the poorer records in the top half. The odd thing us, we almost certainly have better defenders individually now than we did a year ago.
    Friend has proven to be a bargain and a revelation and is probably better than Bennett was. The much-maligned Hoyte has come on a lot since re-signing and Steele has matured considerably this season. Although as mad as a box of frogs, Bikey offers something that we have lacked for a long time. Each of these shows improvement during the last year.
    So if our defenders are, one by one, better than a year ago, why has the defence deteriorated as a unit?
    Woody is our best defender. He remains a class act and is possibly the best in the division. However I believe he is also the source of the problem. His susceptibility to injury means that he misses as many games as he plays (predictably), which disrupts the defence. As a result, the defence has to be constantly chopped and changed.
    Added to the fragility of Rhys Williams, the usual quota of ‘normal’ injuries plus the departures of previously key defenders like Bates, Bennett and McManus, the defence has never had chance to become a unit. Despite better individual quality, these defenders have not played together enough to be able to strike up understandings.
    As long as we rely on injury-prone players, we will never have a good defence.

  18. Nikeboro –
    I think the change in defence is very simple, Mogga has the team playing in a much more offensive style, which occasionally means we get caught out and will conceed some. Its not a problem providing we score plenty.
    From what i’ve seen over the last two weeks we dont have a ‘defensive’ problem as such (except Bikey). We conceeded three at Brum because of three individual errors, these things happen. At Peterborough I think we conceeded two because the team collectively switched off after going two up.
    Going back to Bikey, I agree with you he does offer something different, although I suspect we disagree on what that is. For me he offers uncertainty, not a good trait in a defender, for 85 minutes a match he is an assett, then at some point he makes a serious error of judgement. It arguably cost us three points last week.
    Ian –
    I understand your point about Emnes, but after what I saw yesterday he cant possibly be worse defensively than Ledesma and he’s good attacking coming in from the right. Ledesma is probably a good player and showed some good stuff on Saturday but he was very erratic and seemed slow to judge situations when we didnt have the ball.

  19. A bit of a panic for me at 2-2 on Saturday……lets get Nicky Bailey back in front of the defense breaking things up shall we.

  20. Ignorant is right, whether it Bails to look after the shop or Leadbitter.
    I take Nigels point about Ledesma but I think replacing him by Emnes wont improve it.
    With Leadbitter on his own but still attack minded you have Haroun, McEachran and Ledesma all looking to get forward without necessarily thinking about what is going on behind them.
    There are some who think people like myself wanting Mogga to be postive means we dont want us to be solid at the back. Far from it, in my eyes you defend from the front. Being positive means precisely that, playing a higher line and playing with tempo.
    You can do that and still have someone keeping the back door shut.
    And Rockcliffe Hall is featuring on the golf on Sky as I type.

  21. Nigel Reeve –
    I take your point about TM having pushed for more offensive play. There is clearly a change in favour of attack and, yes, much of the solidity a year ago was achieved through defending in numbers.
    Nevertheless I have seen many, many Championship teams with more potent attacks than Boro but still able to defend far better than us. That was the point I was ineptly trying to make.
    1. We don’t attack all that much.
    2. We mostly have better individual defenders than 12-18 months ago.
    Despite these two factors, all too often we defend poorly. I am convinced we should be more competent and it is because we fail to defend as a unit. I believe it is the constant changes that undermine the ability to learn collective defending and, furthermore, I consider Woody’s injury proneness is the main reason.

  22. Oriol Romeu out for rest of season + John Obi Mikkel at African Cup of Nations = Josh McEachran back at Chelsea in January.
    Do we have an option to balance that equation up our sleeve?

  23. Interesting talks with regards to the defence.
    Any team who has to reshuffle due to Woodgates injuries or required rests would be effected seriously by this. No disrespect to the players that come in for him.
    I think Bailey provides the protection needed in front of the defence better than the rest. Last season when he went out injured we suffered at the back and we dont do so well when he is on the bench now.
    Hope he is not looking to be away in January.

  24. What do we expect from this weeks games?
    With Boro it would be no great surprise to win at Swansea then lost at home to Wolves. Then a two legged semi againsr Arsenal but both games have to be played at the Emirates.
    I see that safe standing is back on the agenda.
    It provokes thoughts of the old days with racist, obscene and vile chants, fans fighting, coins being thrown at footballers and fans invading the pitch. You could even have fans assaulting footballers.
    We dont want to go back to those dark days.
    AV –
    Have a good trip, not even I will expect a full blog article by midnight. Are you staying over?

  25. Do you think we could “do a Bradford” and win on penalties tomorrow at Swansea? Or is it a nailed on win within the 90 minutes *cough, cough*?

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