BORO weathered the storm – rain, hail, sleet, Biblical bruised skies, thunder and lightning, very very frightening – but then got swept away as the tide turned in the second half.
One slip at the back – and a cruel ‘ball over the line’ mistake by the officials – let Leicester through for a controversial opener as Nugent barged aside Ayala and took the ball out before cutting back for Vardy to stab home. After that angry Boro lost their heads, lost their shape, lost their discipline and gradually unravelled in what was a disappointing slither to a 2-0 defeat
There followed a series of self-inflicted scares at the back as the defence imploded with poor balls, poor decisions and poorly execution. Boro twice almost gifted Leicester goals through sloppy defending, then Rhys Williams contrived to give away a stupid penalty with a rash tackle – how many is that this season? Four? – but super Shay saved it (although in truth it was a spot kick that would have looked bad in the Manchester Utd/Sunderland shoot-out).
Then the killer second came amid more chaos as Ayala fouled Vardy and when the free-kick came in Adomah let De Laet free to dart forward and head home unchallenged.
That was that. But it had all started so well. For the best part of an hour Boro had matched what Karanka had called the best team in the division in atrocious conditions and looked good value.
The pre-match deluge made the pitch almost unplayable with the ball splashing and sticking in standing water, players failing to control even simple balls and sliding about dangerously. Ask Leicester’s Liam Moore: he came sliding into to attack a free-kick and clattered into the post. He was last spotted in hospital having x-rays on suspected broken ribs. There were serious question-marks over whether the game would be finished… but then the rain stopped at half-time, a whole peasant mob of pitch-fork wielders arrived and somehow cleared the worst of the puddles.
While the pitch was a sticky, slippy quagmire Boro just edged the balance of play with Adomah and Carayol getting a lot of joy down the flanks and putting good balls across the face of goal but on that surface no one could judge a run, get a good first touch or turn quickly onto the ball.
Boro had the best chance of the first half after three minutes as much maligned Lukas Jutkiewicz did well to win a loose ball in the middle, play a one-two with Ledesma to find space then sent a superb ball down the left for Carayol then sprinted to the edge of the box for the return but then with the headlines and redemption beckoning he stabbed his shot wide. He put in a decent header early in the first half that brought a good save from Schmiechel too but apart from that, for all the splashing endeavour Boro created little.
The game swung disastrously away from them after the opener. They got angry, frustrated and stopped playing as a unit. The jitters set in at the back and suddenly Boro looked a mess. Rhys Williams looked more like the next one out on loan to a lower league side than someone courted by Premier League big boys and you could sense Boro chiefs wondering if it was too late to cancel the Ayala move as he had the classic ‘bad day at the office’ on his real deal debut.
After six games unbeaten there is no shame in getting beaten by the well drilled table-toppers in freak conditions and after a controversial opener. That said, there is no excuse either for the complete collapse after that set-back. The failure to respond was very disappointing. There still needs to be some mental fine-tuning there. And some strengthening up front too.