Golden Graham Breaks Goal Fast

CEREAL striker Golden Graham wrote his way into the history books as the man who ended Boro’s record breaking goal drought with not one but two tasty goals against Ipswich.. Yes TWO goals. In one game. It’s a new age of entertainment.
He was in the right place at the right time to rifle home the opener and while the floodgates didn’t exactly burst open, we were at least paddling in penalty box potency as a second before the break made it felt like a glut of goalmouth action.
And now, after two months of frigid agony over our on-going EIO deprivation we can do away with the clocks and calculators and record books and get back to more mundane post-match moaning. Thank God.
**Cereal Thriller… Danny Graham image via @ksjunior_junior on twitter

Graham’s opener ended a long bleak winter of woe: eight games, 12 and a quarter hours, 734 minutes. The scrappy 1-0 win over Charlton in January that pushed Boro into the play-off frame in mid-January seems a long time ago. A lot of time, momentum and goodwill has been lost through that impotent era of flaccid frustration and for all but the most optimistic of ra-ras, any notion of gatecrashing the top six has long gone.
It was a long personal barren spell broken for Graham too. Before today he had scored once in over a year. He failed to net at all in 13 appearances for Sunderland after he opted to give Boro a loan move bodyswerve and sign for them from Swansea. And he scored just once in his 20 games on loan at Hull – naturally that was against the Welsh side in a 1-1 draw back in December. So today was double his entire haul for 2013.
It wasn’t the most clean and clinical of centre-forwards finishes. In fact it was a bit scruffy, a stabbed close range finish after Gerken had got in a pickle and spilled Muzzy’s shot. But goals are like kids, you have to love them all, even the ugly ones and Graham will ruffle the hair and give a big beaming smile to this one: his first league at Boro for nine years (and one that he will remember after being sparked out scoring his first in a 2-2 draw with Charlton in 2005) and one that lifted a weight off the club’s collective shoulders)
I was just planning the route of the open topped bus parade marking this momentous event when he got a second, a glancing header from a corner. Hurrah! There was a cyber celebration and briefly #DannyGraham was trending nationally on Twitter.
It was a decent display by Boro. Not brilliant but after a tentative start and the opener they always looked comfortable against an average Ipswich. Boro were potent in the first half with Friend and Carayol coming off the naughty step to show what he can deliver when he is on his game. That shows either shrewd management by Karanka or raises the question of what may have happened in the past two games had he played. But that is in the eye of the beholder.
It wasn’t just Carayol that changed the balance and efficiency of the three in the 4231. Lee Tomlin made his first start and caught the eye with some direct runs but also some more subtle touches and at least two slaloming runs that had people off their feet. It’s been a long wait as he gets up to speed with the intensity the boss demands but he could yet be a big player this term once bedded in.
If Carayol’s return from internal exile raised eyebrows, the absence of top scorer Albert Adomah raised hackles. “It was my decision,” he said after the game. “He played for his international team in midweek but it wasn’t because of that. I needed to choose the 18 that I thought would be the best for us.” Of course, winning the game defuses the situation but before the game the selection handed ammunition to the dissenters.
Meanwhile the absence from the starting line-up of Jason Steele also sparked animated debate. It was a risk. Had Dimi had a mare (as now injured Tomas Mejias did last week) the presence of the long time No 1 on the bench would have been a handy weapon to beat the boss with. As it happened he barely had a save to make until stoppage time when he tipped a good header over.
On balance, it was a solid if not spectacular show by Boro that deserved victory. And they scored. That got the monkey of their back and enabled some sunlight in on what has been a bleak landscape. People were smiling on the way out. Laughing. Thawing.
The burden of the bleak barren run has been lifted and now maybe there will be a bit more balance about the way people view the way team has been playing. They have struggled to score, not because of the shape but because the players have not taken their chances. It wasn’t the formation that missed the sitters against Leeds or ruled out the goal at Hillsborough. We’ve discussed that to death through seven frustrating fixtures and become fixated on it – and in doing that have over-looked the far more fundamental tackle development in the team.
This side are rock solid. They have kept 10 clean sheets in 12 games and in the last seven seven have not conceded from open play. They have dealt with some of the best teams in the division, shackled the best strikers, neutralised attacks based on pace and power and learned to shut up shop effectively against a long ball blitz. and that is a fantastic platform to build on. If the front-line can be tactically tweaked with anything like the same results then Boro will have a hell of Championship team. Bring it on.


22 thoughts on “Golden Graham Breaks Goal Fast

  1. No more doing porridge! Our manager (Special K) has served us up a more palpable dish, not exactly smoked salmon and scrambled eggs but perhaps some goodie bits (or shreddies) for us to get our teeth into and savour some goals and a win to enjoy the weekend.
    Gorgeous George had a stormer linking up with Carayol and let’s hope the naughty step is there as a deterrent and not used again.
    I was also pleased to see Tomlin make his full debut and the touches on the ball shows promises of greater things to come.
    Welcome back Higgy hope you can inject some snap crackle and pop into the mix!
    Fat Bob
    **AV writes: A toast to your brekkie based spread of puns. Any more?

  2. It wasn’t a classic by any means but three points are three points.
    I thought we looked a bit anxious in the opening 25 minutes or so but that said Dimi had nothing to do until a daisy cutter on 65 minutes and even then it was hit very tamely and just needed collected rather than saved.
    So Shay has gone but the defence looked solid and although the Tractor boys got past Varga and Friend a couple of times in the early exchanges in truth we never looked like conceding until Dimi’s tip over in the dying minutes.
    Ken and Ben in the heart of the backline dealt with everything and never once looked even remotely ruffled. Grant and Nathaniel were composed all game and worked well together. Lee Tomlin pushed further up and at times almost looked like two Strikers which created problems in the Ipswich defence plus gave Danny a bit more support. Manu put a lot of effort in and done OK but there was no magic and after being unceremoniously grabbed, picked off the ground and slam dunked WWE style he managed to get himself booked by constantly protesting and eventually trying the patience of an otherwise fairly uneventful ref.
    Overall the Ref and his Officials had a decent game and let the game flow by not being overly fussy which made a welcome change at this level.
    Muzzy was MOM but he was closely pushed for the title by Friend and Graham, Omeruo also looked good and Tomlin looks like a fans favourite in the making for the heart and desire he showed and no small measure of ability.
    So Carayol came in from the cold but Agent Albert is missing, presumed wounded in overseas operations. After the game Aitor’s comments would indicate that it was a managerial decision to drop AA, Boro’s very own emergency service of the season to date.
    As AV remarked had we not got a result the decision to drop Albert could have rebounded similar to the Muzzy mystery of the last few games. Hopefully with Higgy back, Danny now off the mark, Muzzy restored and Tomlin toiling in the middle we will see the positivity continue and with Albert in reserve lets hope we see an entertaining end to the season to give hope for next.
    The crowd today was worryingly small at under 14,000 for a Saturday afternoon. We will need a few more wins to try and restore hope and confidence in order to maximise what we can under FFP.

  3. A good afternoon and at last a Saturday night out with my Newcastle supporting mates not giving me sick about the incredible non-scoring run and of course then ‘prolific’ Mackum we’ve loaned.
    There were defiantly many positives. The main one being not only the goals but the win. Also despite such a bad run it looked reasonably easy against a side just outside the play-offs and again showing there is nothing between any side in this league.
    With all the chat about the lack of goals it’s almost gone under the radar how solid we now are. Just two goals conceded in 10 – both penalties. I thought our fledgling young centre backs where superb today.
    I guess a lot depends on how well he does in the World Cup but I would love to see Kenneth back next season on a season loan. Also is there any ‘buzz’ about use signing Varga in the summer? I believe the pre agreed fee was nothing crazy (£500k ish). I think he has nailed the RB role.
    Now on the offensive. I thought Muzzy and ‘Robocop’ where superb and as good a LW pairing as I’ve seen in this division. It seems like George has been given a bit more of a licence to get forward again? I am still not sure what went on with muzzy but the fact is he has to play. To think we’ve had Kei Kamara out there.
    I was pleased for Danny. He has had some stick and not helped by Juke finding some form at Bolton (what’s happened to him?). Tomlin looked every bit the No10 we’ve needed. He reminds me of a old style footballer in his work rate and attitude. I have been waiting to see him in action for ages. My mate is a Peterborough season ticket holder and couldn’t believe we have not been playing him. He describes him as a often infuriating ‘game changer’ also ment as a compliment I think ‘a fat Messi’ or ‘poor mans RVP’ so he has something.
    I also thought the forced changes in midfield helped us be more offensive. Grant can at least pass the halfway line and play a pass that’s not square. It will be interesting to see if he brings Whitehead back in in Tuesday. I really hope not. I would say the same about Woody as well.
    So onto Tuesday. I hope the tinkerman doesn’t overly tinker with a winning side that for a change looked balanced. I guess Woody and Whitehead maybe back but neither should come into a winning side for me. I guess Bournemouth and a third game in a week could see a few ‘freshing up’ changes.
    I noticed Forest went down 1-0 at Barnsley so they could be a ‘wounded animal’ under mad Billy (still on a touch line ban I believe?).
    So a good day and a even better result with fat more positives than negatives. As a Boro fan that’s all I ask.
    As stated the MOTM was Muzzy with George a close second. Also Tomlin did enough to suggest he could be the player my Posh supporting mate says he will be.
    My bucket and spade is packed for a ‘beano’ to Bournmouth next weekend.
    All I can say is god help the B&B as there out 12 of us.

  4. So normal service resumed and three points in the bag. Perfect weekend for Karanaka, Graham, the club and the supporters. Let’d hope this is a start for a winning run.
    But as AV said, Boro have kept 10 clean sheets in 12 games and in the last seven seven have not conceded from open play. Let’s enjoy that – and with a few goals scored, we can easily be the team on the up in this division.
    Also, AV, how the heck you can finish a story this long and good so SOON after the match? Incredible good service for us, thanks. You should tell us more about your work routines during the week (or as we know this blog is not a paid work).
    Up the Boro!

  5. I hope we are not going to over-egg the breakfast references, brains getting scrambled because we poach a couple of goals.
    Hats off by the way to local lad Richard Kilty for his 60m win in Poland yesterday. He also gave a mention to training at Claireville Stadium in his post-race interview, happy memories.

  6. Another clean sheet, with again a different make up of the back five, and two in front. For me this is really starting to prove that AK’s system is the correct one to take us forward.
    If we can just improve on the goals for, then we may have reason to be optimistic about next season.
    We still are a little thin on the ground in some areas, and wonder who would play at LB if George picked up an injury, or Varga for that matter.
    Do we have any youngsters who could step up to the mark AV?
    **AV writes: I think if George was crocked Ben GIbson would go to left back. Kenny to right back, Not ideal but would “do a job.”

  7. AV you wrote:
    “They have struggled to score, not because of the shape but because the players have not taken their chances. It wasn’t the formation that missed the sitters against Leeds or ruled out the goal at Hillsborough.”
    You can also throw in personnel in to the same comment. The front four looked a lot more balanced on the team-sheet before the match.
    Mrs G hurt her back so our trip up was cancelled but at least I now have the chance to reveal the true reason for our win.
    I was out and had to miss the early commentary. I had Talksport on the radio – it was that or listen to the build up to a horse race on Radio 5. They went over to the Riverside where the summariser informed us that Goalden Graham was on the front of the programme, Danny telling us he was at home at Boro. A smug comment along the lines that our mutual goal droughts made it a perfect match.
    To be fair he wasn’t horrid but we must be grateful for Commentators Curse working to our advantage.

  8. When you come close to the relegation zone, leak goals, then organization is most important the goals will come later. This result against Ipswich could be the corner turned with hopefully a similar result Tuesday.
    A steady run now will be a good stepping stone for next season

  9. Agree with your summation av particularly in relation to the solidity of our defence.
    I also agree we have missed chances in recent games, however I don’t think you can write off seven games without scoring as a minor issue or blame it solely on inept finishing or bad luck.
    Yes they play a part, but yesterday we had far more creativity on the pitch from the off and it showed. To win games in this league of attrition you need that touch of class to do something special a la Merson. Yesterday we had Carayol, Ledesma and Tomlin all creating chances.
    Yes they can be erratic but they will create chances. Compare that to Main, Kamara and Butterfield. No disrespect to those players but are they going to create the chances for Graham to get on the end of or alternatively score themselves. I can’t see it and I actually think thats our biggest weakness at present. No quality alternatives when any of our top attacking players get injured or upset the boss.
    On a positive note though that’s a far better situation than a few months ago when we didn’t have good enough attacking players in the starting eleven.

  10. AV –
    Just say the word if you need reinforcements on Tuesday. You will be in dangerous proximity to wee Billy.
    **AV writes: Yes, and he’s up in the stands as well so I will be within blood bubbling range of his radiating rings of rage.

  11. Very happy with the win and, for most part, the display.
    It was very good to see Friend being allowed to go forward again and the result, with Carayol playing like he had a point to prove, was clear for all to see.
    It was generally a much more attacking display without leaving ourselves exposed. Precisely what some of us have been calling for. Same again on Tuesday please.

  12. Interesting! How few comments there are when we win….probably upwards of 30 had we lost …
    **AV writes: It was ever thus.

  13. Len’s comments raise the spectre of a bizarre cancelation. Will the safety certificate cover Billy being sat in the stand?

  14. Phil, Norton –
    if only it was that simple.
    Before the game when I saw the line up I was a little perplexed/surprised and I thought had we lost, Karanka would have come under some serious fire for his team selection.
    Ledesma ahead of Adomah? Is he mad? Adomah not even on the bench. Jason Steele still out in the cold, what does not training well enough, actually mean? Still, at least we didn’t see Main on the wing.
    I’m still loving the tight defence, its fantastic, it gives me optimism for next season.

  15. As Phil in Norton has commented there definitely looked to be greater threat in the final third. It was interesting watching the pre match warm up and seeing Higgy out there with the forward men and midfielders playing one-two’s, moving the ball forwards and taking shots at goal repeatedly.
    I don’t think it was all down to Higgy but players warming up via attacking movements and positioning must help the mind set to a degree plus pairing the best LB and LW combination in the Championship was a huge benefit (not seen since the Blackburn game). Just makes me wonder what could have been against Leeds and the Owls.
    Regarding Cassandra’s comments about the posts I think its a case of the site being “unpostable” for a few days last week not helping plus bad news always travels faster than good. If you have good service in a shop, hotel or restaurant we expect it so we don’t tend to rush out and tell everyone. Conversely if your meal was cold or the shop assistant was clearly disinterested and shrugged shoulders then you are unlikely to return and will make a point of telling everyone you can think off.
    Its not unique to football or Boro for that matter, there are angry message boards and empty rows of plastic seats all over the country every Saturday. I’m just glad we haven’t got a “Tom Cleverley” at the moment, all our whipping boys are either out on loan or injured.
    It will be interesting to see if we go again with the same level of intent tomorrow night. I hope Aitor builds on the opportunity for momentum and doesn’t think of tinkering too much. Apart from Albert in for Manu I don’t think I would change too much.

  16. I really don’t think AK (and the players) have got enough credit for this defensive run – to have not conceded at home since early December and to have not conceded in open play since January (after we fell apart following another abysmal linesman decision) is outstanding really. It’s not like you can just ‘park the bus’ and be guaranteed a clean sheet – but we have also been creating good chances.
    No-one seems to want 6th place…. 10 wins out of 12 might sneak us in there. Get those foam hands ready!

  17. At Karanka said that Albert will be in the squad against Forest. So we can still add quality to our team. Great.
    Up the Boro!

  18. Borophil –
    You’re right, Karanka hasn’t had enough credit for the defensive record and I include myself in that.
    The goals against count would be a remarkable success for any team but given how porous we were before he arrived it’s a minor miracle.
    I agree with Redcar Red as well – let’s keep the bulk of the team the same for tomorrow night.

  19. Yep, I think we are all desperate to see Carayol-Tomlin-Adomah behind an on form Graham. Let’s hope it is tomorrow.
    **AV writes: Karanka told us in pre-match press conference today that Albert would be in the squad and Graham & Carayol both said they came off because “we’ve got another game on Tuesday.” So maybe.

  20. The tension builds in the East Midlands, suddenly half the A52 corridor have switched their allegiances from sheep to become Boro fans.
    In some ways there is a similar situation to the North East. The traditional rivals are close together with the upstarts, Leicester, 30 miles to the south.
    There is further similarity in that the upstarts were the last team to win a trophy. The League Cup is derided yet coveted by those who haven’t won a trophy for some time.
    The fact Leicester are top of the pile nags away at the traditional rivals.
    Who will be speaking to me tomorrow? A sort of Billy Some Mates.

  21. Just been with a fan of the Tricky Trees.
    He is worried because they have ten players out including Andy Reid. He thinks Billy trains them too hard and they are picking up unnecessary knocks.
    I told him ten missing was for wimps.

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