Boro Barmy At Crazy Cottage

WHERE do you start with that? Seriously, where? That was a crazy game of ups, downs and disbelief  that captured the agonies of the entire season so far. And made Boro hostage to fortune in the play-off lottery.

The low-key first 45 that felt like a mid-table dead rubber as Boro floundered and failed to find the terrifying tempo and growling gear going forward they showed as they ripped into Wolves and Norwich that forced the gaffer into admitting it was ’embarrassing’,

Or the pulsating, end-to-end shapeless schoolboy frenzy of the second half assault that was barnstorming stuff that nearly paid-off?

1kike

              It’s that ‘Bournemouth look’ : Kike devastated on the whistle

The flaccid frontline in the opening hour as two not quite fit forwards struggled to penetrate one of the worst defences in the Championship? There were chances: Grant Leadbitter’s flick and volley free-kick was an inventive flourish and had it gone in would have been a beauty. But apart from that Boro huffed and puffed and laboured but couldn’t get a grip.

Or do you start with Boro’s own frailties at the back as the league’s most water-tight rear-guard suddenly fractured to conceded an unchallenged ‘red zone’ header from a poorly marked corner, then contrived to give away two penalties and were caught at the death?

Or maybe we should hail the incredible fight-back that almost – almost – salvaged something as Karanka made a Football Manager style treble substitution and was very nearly rewarded as Boro hit back from two goals and a man down to square the game going into stoppage time?

That was crazy. Aitor abandoned his Mourinhoesque caution and went gung-ho in a hell-for-leather assault that saw scapegoat-elect Adam Reach claw one back, Dani Ayala score one and graze the bar and then nod on in scramble for naughty-step Spanish striker Kike to come out of the cold and score a last gasp leveller.

1reach

           Instant impact: scapegoat-elect Adam Reach starts a spirited fight-back

Had it finished there it would have gone down in folk-lore as a famous fight-back, a precious point wrought from adversity and a show of steel that, whatever the first hour’s drab ineptitude, would have inspired supporters to #believe and maybe eat into the confidence of Bournemouth on Monday.

But with the hard work done and a precious point retrieved Boro somehow contrived to throw it all away in injury time.

Most of the post-match angst will obviously centre on the costly keeper clanger as Dimi got caught cold. Karanka put his hand up and said he had urged Dimi upfield as he wanted to win the game. It was his fault. 

You can see the logic. Fulham were wobbling and you could see the attraction of forcing a late winner in a frantic scramble and taking all three points to force the pace at the top.

But, really, how often does a keeper have an impact in the box? Yes, he is an extra unmarked body but it leaves the back door swinging wide open but it just adds to the chaos.

Fans always laugh in disbelief when they see the big lad trundling forward knowing full well that in five seconds time he’ll be sprinting back as the ball gets hoofed the other way. Once in a while they actually get caught out.

As Fulham hoofed the corner away Tomlin had a chance to bring McCormack down then, incredibly Dimi got back into the box and he had the opportunity too but was tuned and Boro’s former transfer target slotted home easily.

I suppose we should think ourselves lucky the finish was so simple. In a game like that you wouldn’t have bet against either of the Boro players getting red carded to miss out on the play-off and really twist the knife – or Dimi giving away a penalty so McCormack could complete a hat-trick of spot-kicks.

That would really have put the tin hat on a crazy game on a crazy day in a crazy division. 

It was a case of stick or twist. Karanka took a big gamble and lost. And bust Boro’s automatic promotion hopes.

Had Boro finished 3-3 it would have been a very useful and potential decisive point. The defeat has all but ended any prospect of the top two.

And it has put Teesside on a downer going into the sell-out home game with Brighton that could have been a promotion party.

Still, “Que Sera Sera…” Wembley here we come.

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175 thoughts on “Boro Barmy At Crazy Cottage

  1. Clive

    Dont confuse my comments that sports have winners and losers with the fact this has been our best season for years and enjoyable to boot.

    I am looking forward to the play offs, rather not be in them but you take what you can.

    Aitor will be at the team to make their hard work pay, get their rewards through the play offs.

    First of all we need to end the season on a high in front of a bumper crowd, I am not treating it as the last match of the season and a beauty parade. It is the chance to finish third and get the best position in the play offs and go in to them with momentum.

    It is a set of cup ties to get more fans on board, hopefully Friday night at home, no school and less work the next day. The prospect of a trip to Wembley.

    Then, as somebody posted, they will all have at the Blackpool game, oddly one of my half a dozen home games!

  2. I’ll add my congratulations to Bournemouth. You would be very hard pushed to say that it is not deserved. What a ride their supporters will be on next season, good luck and enjoy it and I hope that it lasts.

    As for us, its never been more important for 33600 voices to lift the team and project them into the play offs on a high. That we have a great record this season against all of the play off contenders counts for nothing, except that you would expect each of the teams and their management to have learned something from playing us.

    The pressure is off us now for the Brighton game, so lets all enjoy it, watch some good football and see a bucketful of goals.

    COB

  3. I remembered one occasion when a keeper went up and scored and have found a clip

    The irony was that it was Mart Poom for Sunderland against his former club Derby. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the time. It was one of those matches where you wanted both teams to lose!

  4. That’s it then flights booked arrive on Sunday afternoon, fly out Monday night and hopefully a match in the middle – somewhere in London..:)

    How on earth I get tickets I don’t know – do they sell them at the gate at Wembley as there is only a weeks notice?

    A wonderful way to kick start the summer.

  5. Play offs it is and in all honesty after the away defeats at Watford and Bournemouth I didn’t think we would make automatic. We couldn’t best either of these teams home or away this season,well done to both for achieving it.

    I think the difference between them and us was they had goal scorers each had at least three who were well into double figures. That has been our downfall this season,clinical finishing. AK may regret January’s statement that he was happy with the strikers he had,although maybe he wasn’t he was trying to bring Rhodes in but because there just wasn’t anyone else available he was giving them a public vote of confidence

    Does it really matter who we get in the play offs out of Ipswich,Derby,Brentford or Wolves?
    I think not,we are quite capable of beating any of these four over two legs as long as we approach the game with a winning mentality from the first minute!

    What is important is our key players are fit,some have been playing with injuries for the past couple of games. I think these players should be rested for the Brighton game,we are in the play offs and it makes no difference whether we finish fourth or fifth,no point in risking them!!

  6. Well unfortunately Bolton let us down – I suppose it was always going to be a long shot relying on a former Celtic manager to help get us promoted – we’ve not exactly had much success with those types in the last few years.

    My main worry about the Playoffs now is what happens if we’re being run by Scotland by the time we get to Wembley – will we then be promoted to the SPL instead?

    Still Charlton have come out and declared that a 19-0 victory by them they shouldn’t be written off just yet – though in Typical Boro tradition we would probably draw 0-0 with Brighton if they did.

    I agree, it’s time to rest the likes of Bamford, Vossen and Adomah for the friendly this weekend as they are looking a little battled scarred and a bit leggy.

    Time to circle the wagons and regroup and patch up the injured – and that’s just the supporters!

  7. Where we failed in securing an automatic promotion place will be an interesting debate with many differing viewpoints. Was it the sluggish start back in August? The dropped points against Leeds, Blackpool, Sheff Wed, Fulham and other teams down the division? The defeats at our direct rivals, Bournemouth and Watford? Or was it a lack of clinical finishing, a tactical or selection issue (Meijas, “tinkering” or Bamford too often played wide) or even inadequate recruitment in January or even back in the summer?

    Each will have their own view but all ignore the fact that it has been a terrific season full of excitement and interest right up to the second to last game (but now to resume into the playoffs. One of the biggest surprises of all is that automatic promotion is not going to the final game, pedantry aside.

    With the exception of Redcar Red, I dont think any of us truly expected a top two finish back in August. I didn’t. I thought we’d challenge for the playoffs but no more.

    The play-offs are a scary proposition but the games themselves should hold no fear for Boro. We’re more than capable.

    Congratulations, though, to Watford and Bournemouth. The Cherries in particular have been wonderful to watch.

  8. Well, if the Boro make it to Wembley, I’ll be cheering them on from Tenerife as we fly out the day before.

    Ironically, I pass Wembley most days on the way in and out of work- it’s 15 minutes away from where I live on the train!!

    Ah well, hopefully the Karanka connection means they may have it on somewhere. Of course, they have to get there first!

    To add to things, my area is surrounded with happy Hornets fans (a lot of my Watford supporting mates are now saying how they’ll be backing Boro now after weeks of wanting us to lose 😏)

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