Tyke That: Woken Wonders Beat Barnsley on Snooze-Control

IT TOOK the rude awaking of a galvanising goal from Barnsley to wake up a .game that had been on snooze-control.
Boro had stretched and yawned and scratched and rubbed their eyes for 20 minutes but quickly took casual control of a low-key game. Casual control; not assertive or aggressive or urgent control. They dominated possession and space and created some decent chances with routine ease but squandered them in the same unflustered fashion. No problem. It was all so casual they may as well have been playing in smart chino slacks and Fred Perry shirts.



It wasn’t just Boro that were going through the motions in the 3-1 Riverside win. Barnsley were just as languid and with less excuse. They were supposed to be snarling and scrapping for their lives, they were supposed to come and show some spirit and tenacity. In fact they arrived with the non-committal aura of a pre-season friendly. And considering it was a do-or-die ‘Cup Final’ for them and only a short haul trip from South Yorkshire they brought a meagre scattering of fans – 700 or so – and they barely made a noise.
And it was Barnsley’s own fault they got beat. Had they not scored the opener the whole game would have fizzled out into a frustrating goalless draw against a background of stony faced chuntering.
The first half hour was low-thrills, low-intensity and low-tempo. Then Boro sparked into life and had four or five good chances in a lively period when Luke Steele – their Luke Steele, not our often mislabelled forgotten shot-stopper – made some excellent saves.
After the break Barnsley scored in a languid fashion, M’Voto getting to a poor (and cheaply conceded) corner that bounced through the box and hooking a scruffy ball that skidded past Dimi and sneaked in.
That woke Boro up with a start Sting into action they levelled within a minute as Varga played the ball forward and Tomlin barged forward and then lost and regained the ball twice – once after a pass from M’voto before drilling home.
Then after a relatively high-tempo scrappy spell Boro rammed home their advantage with two equally scrappy goals: unmarked Graham slammed home from close range but only after Adomah had shanked a sitter at the keeper and it rebounded kindly to the on-loan hitman eight yards out then Tomlin played a good one-two with Adomah to carve through a Keystone Kops defence to rifle in a low drive.
It was an all action end to a game that for long spells spluttered and creaked and the finale sent the fans away happy and with a flicker of optimism again in contrast to the mumblings of mutiny last weekl. The pendulum of public opinion.
Then there was a lap of ‘appreciation’ that would have been a lot better received had they beat Millwall last week and at least turned up at Reading to make the far-fetched play-off lunge at least a bit more dramatic if still ultimately fruitless.
Still, it showed they can beat lowly sides when they get their act together which has been a big problem, one flagged up repeatedly by the gaffer and by players . And Tomlin is showing signs of turning some of that bustling energy into a potent (if not always graceful) attacking force. And it made up for the red-faced rout at rock bottom Barnsley that saw off Mogga in October.
And, there were flashes from a couple of other players too:Jozsef Varga played well, returning wideman Adam Reach was lively in the first half before fading and Jacob Butterfield linked up well with the frontmen in his obligatory hour before being subbed.
Still, plenty to talk about… mainly, which of the players waving to the crowd were waving goodbye to the Riverside.
More later….

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25 thoughts on “Tyke That: Woken Wonders Beat Barnsley on Snooze-Control

  1. My two mates left five minutes before the end so think it was a crap game. I enjoyed it. It was scrappy and slow at times but Boro kept battling and got the goals. I think Tomlin will be a real player for us next year.
    Fell sorry to lose Barnsley. It is a nice easy trip and we always takes loads there. Mind, they should be embarrassed at the couple of hundred they brought for a massive game. Pools took more to Plymouth.

  2. LOL AV. You never get many comments when we win! I think a lot of the blog regulars are on their sunbeds too.

  3. What was the score?
    **AV writes: We WON! 3-1! It was a classic… of sorts. Two goals in stoppage time with little flashes of joy after a largely stodgy affair.

  4. Stuck in the car coming up from Kent. Going to visit my lad in Highgate on the way up and got stuck for nearly an hour on the A2 following an accident, decided to go round on M25 then stuck because of huge hold up on North Circular.
    Listened to radio five with scarcely a mention in the first half but we were on top. Second half saw us one down as I passed Milton Keynes but us 3-1 up before Leicester. Shame we only really got on because of bad news for Barnsley.
    Lost the game at Leicester already, Derby may go up so may only be left with Forest.
    At least we won but the guessing games start now.

  5. It was great to meet up in the Navi with fellow bloggers and put faces to names (even if only usernames). Jarkko, Forever Dormo, Werdermouth – it was tremendous and we must do it again.
    It’s strange how you get to feel you know a person through the blog yet have never met them. You don’t know anything about them other than their thoughts on Boro – but then that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Whether a person is a Dean or a dustman, whether he/she is on the dole or a captain or industry, all that counts is how they feel about the Boro. That’s the essence, the core of anybody’s personality.
    Anybody who reads this blog knows that our Finnish kindred spirit, Jarkko, is the world’s leading optimist. Remote in his Nordic eyrie, he indulges his Boro-related fantasies free from confrontation with less positive reality. Bless ‘im, it’s Jarkko that snaps me out of my bitter & twisted cynicism forged from 50+ years of mainly frustration.
    Having seen two miserable defeats, that must have been a crashing-down-to-earth shock. I was pleased & relieved for Jarkko to see a win yesterday. Otherwise he risked being banned as a jinx.
    It was a shame I got there late after a nightmare journey that took 2 hours longer than usual. Leaving home at 8 I should have been there around 12. Nevertheless it was good to meet up, even if only for half an hour. We must do it again some time.
    **AV writes: I think the way you view football (irrespective of which team) is a reflection of the age old philosophical divide. It is Aristotle v Plato. Materialism v Idealism. It is the oldest rivalry and all our intellectual jockeying between ra-ra and chickenrunner is a direct reflection of that.
    When I get time to write a book, that’s what it will be about.

  6. Going to one of my very few home games yesterday, I was again struck by how flat things were. Compared to most other grounds, and the vocal fervour of Boro’s away support, the Riverside is a poor man’s Highbury library.
    The match didn’t help. Especially in the first half, it was slow, fragmented and mostly drab. It was noticeable how static the players were, with a distinct lack of movement. More like netball. No fluid, inter-changing total football here.
    Having seen some good away performances lately, the whole experience was in sharp contrast. I had been confident that Boro were on the right track and there was the making of a promotion outfit. After yesterday, I’m not so sure.
    There was little to beat. Even when presented with a gift, Barnsley didn’t put up much fight other than Luke Steele. Our three goals put a gloss on a largely disjointed and uninspiring display.
    One concern is the occasional but blatant laxness in the defence. They were playing statues when Barnsley were invited to convert. In trying to overcome the torpor of all the 0-0s, I wonder whether Boro are having to forfeit defensive soundness?
    I didn’t rate Butterfield in the deep-lying MF role. Just in front of the back 4, he didn’t offer much of a defensive screen and, attempting to spray long balls around, too many were over-hit.
    Tomlin is improving and has something to offer. He’s certainly not fluid or elegant – more of a determined, physical, awkward opponent. He has some tricky twists & turns and, importantly, is not easy to knock of the ball. He also does well at times in linking up play in the last third.
    On the other hand, I thought Graham was poor, despite his goal. Even at Championship level, it’s difficult to see what he offers. Despite his physique, he’s easily shrugged off the ball. With his back to goal, the ball did not stick once with him.
    Facing goal, Graham lacks pace and is no dribbler. I also wonder about his fitness. As if it was his first game back after weeks out, I noticed him blowing, hands on hips, after every run of more than a few yards. He’s useful in the air but threatens little with his headers. Apart from a couple of seasons, his scoring record has been poor for years and that showed yesterday. With a series of chances, few were even on target.
    I’ve been saying for years that Boro are fatally flawed with the lack of a scorer. Graham isn’t it. If Boro were able to add a forward of the calibre of an Ings/Austin/Rhodes, those 10-15 extra goals would make all the difference. We could then afford to concentrate on defence, safe in the knowledge than any chances had a good chance of being converted.
    Yesterday’s players and performance don’t give me confidence of success next season – but they’re not a long way short. Everything depends on the transfer comings & goings in the summer. A reliable scorer, a creative MF and a couple of others could make all the difference.

  7. If we’d lost 0-1, the blog would have received an avalanche of complaining posts. Maybe the two late goals will calm the savage breast/beast?
    Not a great game but there have been few of those this season. Strange performances by some players who, you might have thought, would be busting a gut to prove to the manager that they should be regulars next season.
    Somebody asked me who the players of the season have been. I think two of them wouldn’t have appeared on any list of predictions at the start of the season. I’d say Shay Given and Dimi are vying for the gold medal with Varga a shoe-in for the bronze. A few others have performed creditably, but no “stars” have shone brightly from the sky.
    Varga, Gibson, Ayala and Friend at the back with Dimi behind them: surely the starting defence next season? Though I hear Stoke may have been making enquiries about Dimi. I was surprised to hear Woody had some 24 games this season but clearly he is injured again, and it’s difficult to hang your hat on him as time goes on.
    I’d be amazed if Danny Graham is here next season. The goals to wages ratio would “do” for him. It is always good to see hard work and running, but a striker has to strike a bit more frequently than he does. It is difficult to imagine him scoring, say, 20 next season in this league, even after dropping down from the Premier League. Maybe he’ll be playing in the Championship for Sunderland?
    Adomah was injured and limping around for much of the second half yesterday – maybe that’s the end of his season (as well as Woody’s). Kamara has had a hernia operation, I understand. Carayol is obviously out for a lengthy spell. Ledesma has looked OK at times and has scored the odd good free-kick or goal from distance. But as a wing-back or emergency full-back? I’d prefer to be the bloke opposing him – not much chance of him chasing back or getting properly stuck in.
    There are lots of players in the squad who have shown a little flash here or there, but consistent performances over a full season have been few and far between. We are an average team in a not-particularly-good league. It may be difficult to get out of, but that is because of the number of games to play, the constant Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday grind of it all, rather than the number of quality teams in opposition.
    The fact we are where we are, stuck right in the middle of that league, is no surprise. It is where our team’s performances deserve to see the club placed. No injustices, not a case of bad luck. Our league position tells the truth about the team’s level of performances over the length of the season.
    No wonder there are few posts so far to this blog entry – contributors might feel a little battered down by the inevitability of it all.

  8. Echo the previous comments about meeting the fellow Bloggers in the Navigation pre-match. Kev B and myself are there every home match, if anyone wants to continue to join us, even AV will testify to our quiz being worth the visit.
    Glad we won the game, even though it did look edgy at times. We had George Friend sat in front of us throughout the proceedings and it was fun to watch him cringe from time to time.
    I’m happy that Forever Dormo gave Joe Varga a mention in his piece, as for me, he is my player of the season by a Country MIle. Not sure about the official stance with Debrecen, but I hope Boro can bring him back on a permanent deal, truly an unsung hero if there ever was one.
    It was also good to see both the January signings on the score sheet, not sure that Danny will stay, but given time, I think Tomlin and Butterfield could become as iconic as Higgy and Barmby were back in the day.
    So Kev, I’m back on the Blog, you can stop giving me grief now!!!
    Roll on three points at sunny Huish Park, watch out for low flying Helicopters, and if you go, enjoy the day…. UTB
    **AV writes: It was indeed a very good quiz with questions from interesting angles. Much better than the generic routine pub music quiz fodder. I’m gutted I never got Virginia Plain.

  9. After seeing the dour defeats against Millwall and at Reading, I think we played with a spring in our step against Barnsley. OK, Barnsley did NOT seem to be playing well and lacked in quality and a will to win which was strange as the game meant so much to them. But perhaps we didn’t allow them to play like Millwall was allowed?
    Small margins but I quite enjoyed the latter part of the first half. There were more chances in the last 20 mins than in whole of the previous two games. And it was finally nice to see three goals scored by Boro. So at least a respectable way of ending the last home match of the season.
    Yes, it was great to see all the fellow bloggers and AV at the Navi before the match. As Nikeboro said, it’s nice to see the faces behind the names. We have now done it twice and I’ve got to know some people better and better. Having visited Dormo’s pub also a few times as well as HalifaxP’s home, I have really enjoyed my time at Teesside (and the way up there).
    Luckily my wife likes football as well and is converted from a Man Utd fan to a Boro supporter by now. The club is not too big and the fans and the area are just suberb. We are currently at the Manchester airport waiting our flight home – and we are already planning our next trip to see Boro!
    We also found an old friend we used to see in the late 1980’s. We found his address from the post office at Great Ayton and met him – first time for over 20 years. We later met again at France Street parking area before the Barnsley match by chance. Of course we both were going to the match but still.
    So a really great holiday. So a big thank you to all people we met – all the new and older faces. Let’s hope we get off to a good start next season and perhaps we get back to the PL again. At least I could then see Boro on TV back home in Finland.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Cheers Jarkko. Same time next year?

  10. Pity I missed the Navi quiz I was in there very early before joining the prawn sandwich brigade in the middle haven suite listening to a very funny talk by Eric Gates.
    The match in the first half was pretty dire and I thought it resembled a pre season friendly rather than a competitive footie match.
    Second half couldn’t believe how our defence just stood and watched the goal such a soft one!
    Tomlin looked lively and was obviously up for it and was pleased to see him get two goals.
    Where was Leadbitter? We only look half a team when he doesn’t play is he injured or has he fallen out with Karanka?
    Stating the obvious we need a striker next season and would like to sign Varga and Graham on permanent deals.
    Heard a rumour we are looking at a Spanish right back but I suppose the rumour season starts now.
    Nice to read all these blogs happy close season everyone and UTB
    Fat Bob
    **AV writes: Leadbitter had tweaked a muscle in his lower back.

  11. I had a choice between a family do or watching the Boro and for the first time probably ever I put family before Boro. That said I listened to most of the game via a discreet earpiece. Have to say I didn’t feel I was missing much and even when the third goal went in I was fairly nonplussed.
    My only emotion was when Danny scored the second and I knew that it had sealed Barnsley’s fate and felt some sadness for them as I know that gut wrenching feeling only too well and its not a good one.
    By the sounds of the commentary and media reports I have read it was hardly a convincing or endorsing performance despite the 3-1 scoreline.
    One game to go and Aitor may give more game time to Reach and a few others against Yeovil. I just hope the Summer gives us cause for optimism and we can start afresh next August with Aitor having a bigger influence on the content and shape of the squad. I suspect we will see a minimum of 10 to 15 departures.

  12. Typical end of season game: deck chairs,sombreros and sun cream were out.
    I thought Barnsley would have made more of a fight of it. They looked resigned to relegation from the start and their fans too with only a small following for a short trip and important game.
    Not a lot to say about the game and the players that hasn’t been said before,will be interesting to see who is on the retained list and who is shipped out.
    Out of the loan players I would like to see Omerou here next season and Varga’s option taken up. Chalobah looks good in flashes but lacks concentration, gives the ball away too cheaply and lacks desire. After all he is a Chelsea player and still regards himself as a Chelsea player. You only have to read his twitter feed
    Danny Graham works hard but we need a striker that is hitting the net and he doesn’t score enough or assist enough to justify his high wage.
    Keep Dimi, Friend, Ayala and,Gibson but out with Woodgate – too many injuries disrupts the team with going off during games. Out also Hines, R.Williams, Richardson, Steele, Parnaby and Leutwiler
    Keep Carayol, Tomlin, Butterfield, L. Williams, Reach, Smallwood
    Out – Halliday, Whitehead, Juke, Emnes,
    Undecided. Leadbitter, Main, Ledesma, Kamara and Adomah (could be our best player but needs to have more consistency and desire to play, he hasn’t shown much at all for the last six weeks or so)
    Important summer for Karanka. He needs to find the right mix of players to hit the ground running from day one next season. Especially needs to find players who are mentally tougher!
    At least Werdemouth saw his first win in about three seasons this visit,I would have liked to have made the Navi with him and my son yesterday but unfortunately don’t finish work until 1.45 for home games. I experienced the quiz once and found it very entertaining.
    However boring the game next week we won’t be snoozing,it’s standing on the terraces there and no roof so praying for fine weather too!

  13. I had a bit of time on my hands so I decided to investigate which tier, historically, Boro have spent most of their time in.
    The premiership’s been going for 22 years. We’ve spent 14 in and 8 out.
    Of course, football didn’t start 22 years ago so I doubled that time span. During that period we’ve spent 23 years in the top flight and 21 out.
    In our entire league history we’ve spent 60 years in the top flight and 43 out of it.
    All this seems to indicate that, historically, we are a top flight club.
    In the all time premiership points table we are 13th.
    In the all time top flight points table we are 19th.
    Next season will be our 6th consecutive season outside of the the top tier. According to my research, we have only been outside of the top tier for a longer spell than this on ONE occasion.
    So, looking historically, we would normally have gone back up by now.
    **AV writes: Any more statistical evidence, historical portents or omens that next season Boro are going to smash this division? We need to nudge the consensus towards a positive tipping point over the summer.

  14. I think we should measure ourselves against Southampton. In many ways: we should be up there in the PL, have more players coming through the Academy etc.
    Yes, I hope we finally succeed in getting a good team, not just good individual players. I think Woody said we have better players than Burnley but they are far better as a TEAM. So I hope Karanka can finally do what SteveH said we have done traditionally. So I hope Boro to go up next season.
    Up the Boro.

  15. Historical portents or omens?
    I wonder if Tomlin will turn out to be Alan Foggon reincarnated, the player who gets the goals out of nothing. He seems to have that something about him.
    Promotion nailed on.

  16. Well a win at the last home game of the season is at least a positive note to finish on and Jarrko got to save the best till last!
    I hope we can get a win next week, Six wins out of eight would be a good run of form to finish on.

  17. Having seen the highlights I wondered who the Boro striker was with no hair in the Barnsley box when Tomlin made it 3-0. It was Varga. What is he doing up there in injury time when we are winning!
    And finally, and this isn’t having a go at Sunderland, but how come AFC Wimbledon are deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player when Sunderland (and West Ham) get away with it?

  18. I know I’m obsessing about us getting a reliable scorer but I do think that a 20+ goals predator would make all the difference to Boro.
    We could then afford to concentrate on collective defending (which seems like AK’s natural approach) confident that, even if only a few chances result, we can rely on his high conversion rate to grab a killer goal. Or two. Especially if our new hero was pacy, it also means the opposition cannot throw the kitchen sink at you.
    Such players need not cost the earth. Ings, Austin and Rhodes were all transferred in recent years for less than we paid for Jutkiewicz.
    That’s been the fatal flaw of Mowbray, Strachan and Southgate: poor judgement of a player. We have seen a succession of dreadful purchases and loanees. We were frittering away millions on numpties while others were picking up bargains that smashed in scores of goals – and, in the case of Charlie Austin, subsequently generated millions in profit.
    That’s one aspect of AK that has yet to be tested. I’m not sure how much he had to do with the few players imported during his tenure but so far so good. None have been outstanding but neither have they been a disaster, which is progress.
    We will see in the next few months whether he can spot affordable gems. If he brings in new players at the right price, preferably including a predator, I don’t care whether they’re sourced from South Bank or South Africa. If AK adds sound judgement of a player to his already revealed attributes then we can go places together.

  19. OK, Never Give Up, I’ll play.
    To paraphrase the Clash: who should stay and who should go?
    A lot depends on who is brought in. There are players I’d like to see leave if they can be replaced by better calibre imports. However if the current player is the best that can be done, then so be it.
    I’m going to categorise A, B or C according to whether I think the player should be retained (A), moved on (B) or C if their retention depends on who else can be brought in. I’m including the present loanees but recognise they might not be available or affordable.
    A:
    Dimi, Gibson, Ayala, Omoruo, Friend, Varga, Leadbitter, Adomah, Tomlin, Carayol.
    B:
    Steele, Leutwiler, Richardson, Hines, Parnaby, Woodgate, Halliday, Emnes, Graham, Main.
    C:
    Ripley, Meijas, Rhys Williams, Reach, Butterfield, Chalobah, Morris, Smallwood, Jutkiewicz, Ledesma, Luke Williams, Kamara.

  20. Well having only just made the Rotterdam to Hull ferry with ten minutes to spare it was kind of the Boro to spare me any more excitement in the first half against Barnsley.
    The players looked like their minds were far away until Barnsley suddenly remembered they were supposed to be fighting for their lives – which then seemed to awaken the Boro from their day dreaming.
    I had initially thought the trainer’s crew were running onto the pitch with an orange deck chair at one point but it turned out to be a folding stretcher.
    Then I was spoilt with a few good efforts on goal plus two injury time goals to reward my 20 hour journey – I think they were the first goals I’ve seen at a Boro match for quite a while.
    So after an inauspicious beginning it turned out nice in the end – also good to catch up again with a some fellow bloggers in the Navi before the game Dormo, NikeBoro, Chris from Beverly, Kev B, some chap from Finland called Jarkko, who all seem as decent as I was expecting from their postings.
    I even managed a quick hello in the press box with a potential award-winning journalist called Anthony – and finally thanks to Never Give Up on Boro for treating me to the ticket – I’d better stop now as this post seems to be taking on an awards ceremony-esque flavour… oh I forgot to thank my wife for not being overly bothered about watching a ‘meaningless game of football’ (until of course Germany get to the World Cup final again and shock of shocks England go out in the group stages)

  21. Am I twisting the knife here, but had we won against Millwall and at Reading, we’d be 7th in the table now. And Brighton at 6th would have been just two points ahead with a game at Forest next Saturday.
    Sure, we would have taken 5 000 fans down to Yeavil and won. Surely?
    Up the Boro! The Boro are going up – next season.

  22. Nikeboro –
    My list for the ones still here next season (who is going to buy injury porone Woody or Rhys):
    Staying:
    Dimi, Gibson, Ayala, Omoruo, Friend, Varga, Leadbitter, Adomah, Tomlin, Carayol, Steele, Woodgate, Graham, Main, Ripley, Ledesma, Luke Williams, Morris, Rhys Williams, Reach, Butterfield, Chalobah, Smallwood.
    Leaving:
    Leutwiler, Richardson, Hines, Parnaby, Meijas, Jutkiewicz, Kamara, Halliday, Emnes, Whitehead.
    So we need a left back, creative midfielder and a striker. I don’t think we can afford too many new signings as long as ours are not wanted by other clubs. How many years has Whitehead his contract to run?
    Up the Boro!

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