Draw Points To The Positive At Wigan

IT WAS a good point. Any away point is always a good one.
It may not have felt like it when former Boro target Jordi Gomez rocket of a free-kick clipped off the wall and spun home for a barely-deserved Wigan equaliser late on but, be honest, you’d have taken it before kick-off.
Yes, the sucker punch six minutes from time – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – hurt because we were all emotionally tuned for a second successive away victory by that stage.
It stung because Boro really deserved to win.


They were well balanced, did most of the attacking, controlled the midfield, were mainly solid at the back and contained the opposition threat, set the shape and tempo of the game and Wigan’s keeper Scott Carson was forced to make a string of superb saves from a potent looking side.
So leaving with just a solitary point at the end smarted a bit.
But remember, Wigan could have had a couple of penalties in a chaotic spell – they actually got given the softest of their three spot kick shouts – and they took an early lead.
That left battling Boro needing to claw from behind again.
And for the second week running they showed spirit and resolve to do just that. In style.
They wouldn’t and couldn’t have done that in last term’s slump.
Boro showed an admirable mental strength and determination as they fought back.
They imposed themselves. They worked hard and stopped the opposition incursions then set about them with real zip, playing some neat interchanges of quick passing and they probed deep into dangerous areas. And they created chances. Plenty of them.
Crucially they did it in controlled fashion and with confidence in the style and shape and each other’s abilities.
And that was against one of the big spending bookies’ favourites. In Championship terms, Wigan have spent heavily in the summer, dipping into the parachute payment and money raised by letting manager Roberto Martinez and striker Aruna Kone go to Everton.
They have brought in the likes of James McClean from Sunderland, Scott Carson from Bursaspor, James Perch from Newcastle and proven Championship goal-machine Grant Holt from Norwich and are expected to be among the title chasers this term.
And Wigan went into the game with a bit of a buzz. The town was on a high after the groundshare eggchasers the Warriors won the Rugby League Challenge Cup at Wembley on Saturday to add to the FA Cup Athletic won in May, a mighty impressive cross code double for such a small town. Respect.
But on this showing Boro are the better team. It was a solid “team” display that once again shows that a real framework is emerging here.
After the first fledgling signs of a coherent side showing up in the 1-0 win at Charlton and then the determination shown to salvage a late leveller against Blackpool, the draw at Wigan was another step forward.
It wasn’t perfect. This is the Championship. By definition teams come with flaws.
There was a rocky early first half spell when McCann and McArthur were putting some good balls into the box and both Holt and Marc Antoine Fortune were causing problems – that’s when the three penalty calls came.
For the first shout George Friend got in a tangle with Fortune and sent him tumbling and for the third Holt got the wrong side of Woodgate – a rare positional error from the Boro defender – and was brought down. Both times there was a wave of relief when the referee waved play on. They were errors that could have proved costly.
Sarcastically Wigan were awarded their spot kick as (after a cheaply-conceded throw in) Fortune cut inside past wrong-footed Friend who reached out and was penalised for tugging his shirt after minimal contact.
At that point Boro were under the cosh but they quickly got a grip both of the attacking threat and the supply line and soon were in the ascendency.
After that they were rarely troubled and Jason Steele only had one routine save to make.
But the late leveller was pretty much self-inflicted.
It was a chain of mistakes. Rhys Williams trapped a high ball superbly on his thigh just outside the box and it should have been thumped upfield or into Row Z.
Instead he rolled it inside and Dean Whitehead – otherwise superb – who miscontrolled and turned inside to recover and was robbed then failed to make his attempted foul to salvage the situation.
That forced Jonathan Woodgate to get into the Wigan Warriors Challenge Cup vibe and haul his man down a yard outside the box to concede the fatal free-kick. Then the wall proved less than solid and the Gomez howitzer slammed into it and deflected off Andy Halliday’s hip and fizzed past wrong-footed Steele.
It was a bitter blow. But Boro were the better side and can take heart from that.
They were undone by a penalty – the softest of three spot-kick shouts – and a sloppily conceded deflected free-kick.
But there were far more positives than negatives.
As well as the collective display there were some superb individual shows.
Woodgate and Williams were both impressive. They have now played every minute of the four league games together – hands up who thought that was possible before the season started – and are starting to develop an understanding.
If that can continue it will go a long way to solve the problem of the shifting sands of stopper uncertainty that undermined the defence last term.
Friend too put in an eye-catching display. It was the Friend that won plaudits in the first half of last term for his marauding runs down the flank rather than the post-injury limp and laboured left back of the second half slump.
He over-lapped and linked up well with Mustapha Carayol and put in some good crosses and then, for the first time in 44 games, he cut inside and drilled home a goal. After that Friendinho unleashed a cavalier flair with fancy flicks, drag-backs, step-overs and nutmegs.
Lukas Jutkiewicz deserves praise too. Once again he came off battered and bruised after beavering away in and around the box, fighting for and holding up balls then bringing in the wide men and midfielders into play.
He takes some flak for “not scoring enough goals” but as the focal point of the attack he plays a vital role well winning quick balls forward and from out wide and getting knockdowns and flicking on.
But more importantly than individuals canvassing for Gazette stars, it was a solid collective display. Boro now increasingly look like a team. With belief and shape and a discernible style, with organisation and belief.
That has been the real story of the season so far.
And it was a hugely enjoyable game too. It was pulsating stuff, packed with attacking intent and great entertainment. Some people will tell you that doesn’t matter and that ultimately only the points matter.
But then, if Boro ground out a win those people would probably complain it was dull.

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38 thoughts on “Draw Points To The Positive At Wigan

  1. just a quick follow up AV (laughing)
    Reading once again the nationals’ reports on the game, I bet Steele’s nickname in the dressing room must be “Luke”,because apparently he was in our net again.
    **AV writes: It drives him up the wall.

  2. Yes you’re right AV before the game was hoping for a draw, watched the highlights and we couldn’t have had more players in the wall for that free kick. Good performance and good result.
    What chance McCormack now, makes one and scores one. let’s hope this week brings a couple of positive signings.

  3. gt –
    A good point especially as according to my daily paper we played the whole match with ten men. Telegraph had us lining up 4-1-3-1.

  4. Overall pleased with the result and performance.
    Before the match, I would have settled for anything better than a 2-0 defeat. I was preparing myself for a hammering. Once the disappointment of not winning faded, this could be seen as a good result. These are the kind of points that promotion teams need.
    The two conceded goals were a worry, especially as they came from our Nemesis of set pieces. However their equaliser was fortunate, a deflection, and a penalty is a penalty. Perhaps of more concern is the sloppiness with which they were conceded.
    The display was encouraging. Organised, mostly tight, balanced, enterprising and showing goal threat. For a while there were echoes of last year’s game at Cardiff. However, this time, we both looked good, dominated the play AND scored goals.
    All in all, reason to pause in the worrying. We might even indulge in cautious optimism, especially as we know this is still a work in progress.
    As AV says, there is the making of a decent team here. Add a goal scorer and a playmaker and we can start to look upwards with some confidence.

  5. Excellent performance from the lads. We were the better team and deserved three points, but were undone by a soft penalty and a late set piece.
    Wigan only really got back into the game in the last quarter when the heat (26 degrees in the stands, and hotter on the pitch) affected our midfield runners, and we had to concede too much territory. But the game would have been over by then had it not been for Carson’s saves and some weak finishing. All in all a triumph for Mogga’s organisational nous, because on paper Wigan looked the far stronger team.
    Star man for me was Woodgate, who completely subdued Grant Holt. On the previous thread, there was a great analysis of Woodie by Paulista Park. I think. I agreed with every word, except his conclusion. If fit, he just has to play, not least because Rhys looks twice the player when he has Woodgate alongside him. Yesterday they looked like the best centre-back pairing in the division.
    A great performance too by Juke, who was a real handful, never stopped running, and produced a couple of cracking shots that would have beaten most keepers. He was a real inspiration to the rest of the team.
    Friend gave away a soft penalty, but produced a greater attacking threat than Carayol and Adomah combined. The latter two did not play badly, but George really attacked his opposite number and fully deserved his fine individual goal.
    And we looked less vulnerable at the back when George went forward because the defensive qualities of our midfield were in greater evidence than last season.
    Whitehead, Varga, and Leadbitter are similar kind of defensive midfield players. Good passers, comfortable on the ball, bags of experience and with great awareness of what is going on around them. They give the side a very solid base.
    The problem is that they would all be at their best playing just in front of the back four. Whitehead had this spot yesterday and had a great game, the fulcrum of most of the side’s intricate passing, until he rather capitulated to the heat towards the end. Varga,and Leadbetter in particular, still kept running but neither has that really creative spark that can undo tight defences.
    The best pass of the game, inside the full back, came from Williams, when he set Adomah free. The winger should have scored.
    I welcomed Albert’s signing. He has always looked good whenever I have seen him on TV. But here his basic ball control let him down time and again. He seemed unable to gather the simplest of passes without it rebounding away from him. Six hours a day of basic ball work this week would be my recommendation.
    A word on Emnes. The radio reporter on the way home had it that Emnes’ late introduction changed the game. He did make an impact, did help to create the second goal ( a just reward for Leadbitter’s tireless running, by the way), and very nearly won us the game with a great shot that produced yet another fine Carson save. But that is no less than we should expect of a player of Marv’s pace and ability, coming on fresh, late in the second half of a game in which everyone else has run himself into the ground. He did well, but in ideal circumstances.
    If it all helps towards Marvin’s rehabilitation, that’s great. We all want to see him back and firing on all cylinders. But for now I am entering the Scottish verdict of not proven.
    A good game , an excellent team performance in the August sunshine, and an all round enjoyable experience for the wonderful travelling Parmo Army, who were in great voice throughout.

  6. Very good result against a very good team.
    Emness is an impact player and could very well become a super sub for us.
    Just his fresh legs while all around him are tired should help push the focus to the opposition end rather than our end.
    The dreaded set piece again. We need a foil. But if we get a CB he needs to be able to marshal the defence in these circumstances. Nothing against Woody and Williams but we need somebody to take charge of things.
    Steady start to the season playing three of the pace setters.
    Just two decent arrivals and i think we can give anybody a game in this league.

  7. Great result, though the late goal was disappointing.
    Still believe that we need that other experienced CH for when the injuries kick in.
    I hope we move on from McCormack this week, as I am not sure now that he will now be a good buy, and I am sure if it got to personal terms, we would end up paying him nearer to McDonalds wages than Jukes which would undo all the good work gone before.
    Mind you would we then panic and sign Amoebi, at the wrong age for me, and not an investment.
    What is the position with Richardson AV?
    **AV writes: taken off as a precaution after feeling a slight groin tweak.

  8. Apart from the 2nd 45 against Leicester we look like a side that is progressing very nicely this season. The points don’t perhaps look as good as we would ideally like but Leicester were tipped to finish top six at least before the season started, Wigan are one of the favourites to bounce back and we are the only side to have taken points off Blackpool who are sitting joint top.
    As it stands this Boro team looks like it can compete with the best in the division which is a far cry mentally from where the side finished last season. A few extras faces here and there to bolster the squad and to change things a little when needed to freshen up and we should be top 10 easily, top eight probably and top six possibly.
    There seems to be a much better team unity this season and belief seems to be growing game from game. Mogga seems to have settled on a starting 11 and tactics that are clear and consistent and its starting to yield benefits. Marvin is also seemingly getting back to his best, is it because the Team is also stronger both physically and mentally?
    When we are drawing and feeling cheated of another two points it augurs well.

  9. OK. Cricket over. Now, let’s concentrate on the football.
    Before the weekend people would have been happy to take a point at Wigan. It is acceptable to feel a little disappointed about the fact that it could have been three points – revising expectations upwards depending how the land lies at any particular time is fine – but it remains a good point away to a team that is expected to be one of the most likely to be promoted.
    Of course there is no good to be had winning a very acceptable point away from home unless we follow it up with a win at home. Over to you, Team….
    There are sunny intervals outside at present, and the forecast is for the clouds to have disappeared in a couple of hours or so. I also see the economic figures for the last quarter have been revised upwards to 0.7% growth when, not so long ago, “triple-dip recession” was feared to be upon us.
    Maybe, to reference D:Ream, and Labour party election campaigns of the past, things can only get better for Boro, too?
    Does that make me a foam hander?
    **AV writes: Everyone is high on foam fumes now.

  10. I am not too worried about incoming. We have brought in some decent, hard working pros along with some pace in Adomah.
    If we have to run with what we have so be it.

  11. I tell you what, finding this blog these days is harder than fathoming out the transfer rumblings on/off/on/off/on/err…offs of the last few weeks.
    Have you been consigned to the naughty step, an embarrasment of straight talk out of step with the EG’s new corporate look?
    Mind you at least you don’t have to wait till after the papers been on sale for an hour or so to get news these days, although I traditionally still don’t check in until dinner time (Teesside dinner, not your middle class version)
    My main concern for the season is the rather fine dimensions of the veneer that is passing for squad depth, too much talk of keeping people fit, maybe the backroom changes during the summer are seen as the real transfer deal!

  12. I sent a post off yesterday which seems to have gone AWOL. Are we suffering technical difficulties?
    I cant remember what I wrote now, which means either it wasn’t important or I’m getting old, or both!
    Picking up on Ian’s point re incoming players, my thought is that if we’re to seriously compete for a top six spot this season, which is my expectation, then I think we’ll need another (good) striker and a CB at least.
    The current squad, although an improvement on last seasons probably hasn’t got the depth to sustain a challenge through to May and the lack of a goalscorer is going to hurt us. I see McCormack scored again last night, is he going to join us on deadline day or is that a forlorn hope?
    **AV writes: Yes, sorry we have had problems. The system was collateral damage in the Great Cyberwar with China. Our network just ground to a half under the weight of a sustained spam attack. I was getting THOUSANDS of spam posts an hour and all the settings and dials and valves started to steam and rattle and make funny noises and everything people posted was getting totally swamped.
    If anyone posted anything yesterday that didn’t appear and isn’t old and forgetful like Nigel – or kept copies – you can try again. We should be OK now.

  13. Nigel –
    I resemble that remark.
    I remember now, part of the post was to remind Dormo that there is more cricket. Yorkshire play the hotch potch of Mackems and Geordies from up the road.
    Those of an older generation are of course still Yorkshiremen if born south of the Tees. I do have a soft spot for Durham CCC, it is in the middle of Seal Sands.
    The great news is that Geoff Cook is back involved following his heart attack. Even though he went over to the Dark Side I wish him well – I played against and with him several times.
    I even recall sitting on the M1 in a foot of snow whilst he was playing for England in India thinking one of us had got it wrong!
    Now where was I?

  14. Ian –
    I’m looking forward to Yorkshire winning the county championship and Young Joe Root scoring 500+ runs this winter against the Aussies, but like you I have a sneaking admiration for Durham, not least because of what they’ve achieved in such a few years.
    Back to the footie, this bloke Chinese Spam that AV refers to, who does he play for, will we be able to get a wok permit for him before deadline day, can he score?
    **AV writes: He’s prolific. I’ll give him that.

  15. Nigel –
    Old, forgetful and rather cantankerous judging by your spelling of county in your last post!
    **AV writes: Not so fast… don’t you oldies think you can get me to drop my guard and sneak swearies through by making me comatose with all your “cricket” talk.

  16. Sorry gents, genuine typo in my first para. I even proof read it before posting, which proves that as well as getting old and foregetful i’m blind as a bat to.

  17. Although the general consensus seems to be that Boro are shaping up to be a fairly decent team, it’s still only five points from 12 – albeit against fancied opposition.
    I think a win over Wednesday is essential to cement the improving tag and give us a solid platform – anything less will leave us dwelling on the usual failure to take our chances and starting to lose ground.
    So that takes us onto the subject of whether Boro will get their targets before deadline day. I believe we can forget about McCormack as Leeds face the possibility of going top with the early kick-off (thanks to Ross’s goals) and then does anyone think their next act will be to sell him for £2m to a potential rival and surrender their promotion dream?
    Besides the most likely scenario now is a late bid of around £4m from a lower PL team needing goals and Leeds then probably replacing him with Becchio.
    So if Boro are serious about getting in strikers they will need to avoid waiting too long – and with what we’ve got at the moment it won’t be enough to mount any serious challenge for a playoff spot.
    So overall some early promise but it woud be naïve to assume Boro can keep their first eleven fit and suspension free for any significant amount of time – we still need leaders to avoid hiccups turning into another slump – some tough calls will need to be made this week.

  18. If Werdermouth’s transfer scenario comes to pass that would be something of a nightmare and something of a blow for any prospects of a top six finish we might have. Looks like it’s fingers crossed time.

  19. Sorry to come over all nightmarish but I was trying to discourage the ‘wait and see approach’ to transfer deadline as there are not many proven goal scorers available and you can be sure as the deadline approaches we won’t be the only option for our targets – the later you leave it the more likely you pay over the odds or you end up with not what you wanted or nothing.
    The pressure on Leeds to sell McCormack is now outweighed by the pressure not to sell him so it will take more than £2m they’ve already rejected to persuade them it’s the better option and then they’ll be looking at what replacements are available and landing Becchio will be a way to placate their fans to some degree.
    Boro need a minimum of one decent striker and one solid centre-back if the transfer window is not to be deemed a failure.

  20. Scratch one forward target off the list. Out bid by Bournemouth. Cue a hat trick against us when the two teams meet.
    SSN:-
    BREAKING NEWS AFC Bournemouth:
    Bournemouth have shattered their club record transfer deal with the big-money signing of Malmo striker Tokelo Rantie.
    The 22-year-old has today penned a four-year contract for what both clubs are describing as an undisclosed fee, with the switch subject to international clearance and a work permit.

  21. Well, I can’t remember what I posted. Something witty, pithy and interesting (I’d like to think). Gone to that great shredder in the sky.
    What did those Glorious Gloucesters die for at the Imjin River? They at least knew what was coming, unlike the geeks at Trinity Mirror Towers.
    **AV writes: The public will never know just how close we came to the nuclear option in this forgotten war… “captcha”

  22. I think Bournemouth’s £2.5m capture (aound three times Boro’s bid) of Rantie just highlights the inflationary nature of trying to obtain a decent striker as the deadline approaches – I’m sure Leeds will have taken note and £2m will no longer cut it for McCormack.
    Maybe Boro should now shift the bulk of their kitty over to the Becchio deal before someone like Yeovil blow us out of the water on that one too – despite FFP, the only truism in football is that money talks – I’ve got a feeling that bids left on the table will only end up on the bottom of the pile come Monday.
    Still, there’s always Shola Ameobi…

  23. An exciting transfer window deadline day? Blimey, we haven’t had one of those for a while. I’d better get down to ‘lagers 4 U’ and stock up.

  24. Nigel –
    Other retail outlets are available.
    I have a bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask waiting for a suitable opportunity to be opened. Basically a day ending in y will normally suffice but I have just been given it as gift from a grateful client.
    The builders/decorators have been in and we have been sharing a TV in our kids/study/computer room – now the kids are older I have adopted it. The last act before the went on holiday was to set up a TV in the sitting room. I will be sat in glorious isolation on Monday surrounded by plasterboard and tools.

  25. Did not expect to get McCormack firstly as he has scored just about every time we have put a bid in. Secondly there seems to be no news of Leeds looking for any type of replacement and as the window closes the chance of them getting one gets smaller. If they were looking it would have given me some hope.
    So we have a few days to move on. I really now don’t know who we are after now Rantie has moved on.
    Looks like a late night Braai (barbacue) and some castle larger this side. Let’s wait and see.

  26. I would say that it is a sure sign there will be no more new faces when the club sends out one of the boys to assert that he feels we have a good enough squad without any incomers…so don’t hold your breath on Mon evening…

  27. I’m with AV, as long as she doesn’t sing, but if we’re looking for a president for the BFH club, I think there are many ‘better qualified’ than Ms Cyrus.
    How about her Dad? He could sing ‘Achey breaky heart’ after each defeat!

  28. Cassandra –
    There is time yet for incoming and here is a promising sign.
    Mogga was talking about how good it was to have a fit Rolls Rhys back in the team. There was no mention of ‘just like having a new signing’ which, as we all know, is code for no more signings.
    We all will be keeping a weather eye on the utterances from the Riverside plus of course the tit bits handed down from the mountain in the gazette.

  29. So AV judging by your deadline day dietary requirements (deep fried Mars Bars washed down with Buckfast) you still believe a certain Scottish striker may be joining Boro – is it still a realistic possibility?
    Perhaps your main course of Fray Bentos corned beef in homage to Becchio will be easier to digest.
    With the news that Main is off to join Reach at Shrewsbury it sounds like one incoming striker is close to completion – but lets not forget McDonald was released to be replaced by a new number one goal scorer.
    Also, what’s happened to Ayala – that well respected journal of record, Wikipedia is stating he has already joined us on a season-long loan.
    **AV writes: The clubs have agreed the deal – loan with an option to buy in January – but he is “thinking it over”… ie his agent is trying to drum up interest from a Premier League club. Boro are also exploring other options on that one.
    They are also exploring other options on the McCormack advanced MF/second striker role too. They have a fall-back position. I think it depends on out-goings at Leeds and if they can find a mug to take Diouf/Brown/Norris off their hands at £10k plus a week. If not, Leeds board have some interesting decisions to make.

  30. Forever –
    I have neared the end of a bottle of Talisker so the Quarter Cask is in peril.
    On the other hand we were in the supermarket last night and my wife was looking at the whisky section, variety malt.
    I am in tricky position Monday because it is our wedding anniversary.
    In our early days I had taken Mrs G to a match against Southampton. We were sat in the wooden seats above the Chicken run when Mickey Burns scored. My wedding ring flew off and disappeared in to the bowels of the stand.
    She was very forgiving but to my delight the club found it on the Monday so we were re united. Phew.
    That has nothing to do with anything other than I don’t think it will be corned beef and buckfast on Monday.

  31. Dormo –
    never been afraid of a Hobgoblin or two. Next time i am at the Boro lets make a deal.
    Lets hope we get hat striker we so badly need we are so close this time to being the real deal. The little i have seen of the Boro on TV is enough to tell me if Mr Gibson wants to throw any more money into this team now is it.

  32. Scratch 2nd target off the list as main forward target (McCormack) signs new four year deal. Loan market it is then – can we make it 3rd time lucky and get Becchio or will Leeds beat us to it?
    **AV writes: They have been working on a fall-back position for a week now.Been looking at two players in that role. I think Lee Tomblin from Peterborough may be one.

  33. What’s happened to our posts from the last 24 hours, AV? Are the Chinese hackers jealous of Boro’s success again?
    **AV writes: I took the kids to Scarborough for last few days of school holidays and we stayed overnight. I was banned from taking the lappy.

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