SIX shooting Boro gunned down Wolves to seal a sizzling sextet of successive wins.
The 3-0 routine Riverside win wasn’t the most entertaining game. For long spells in the first half it was workmanlike and functional and the normally well oiled machine spluttered like an Austin Allegro on a cold winter morning but the first goal swung the game decisively and eventually a Boro side with seven changes got the job done.
It was a win with the minimum of fuss against a well organised and industrious if shot-shy side. It was effective rather than expansive. Professional rather than pulsating. And it won’t take up much space on the end of season highlights DVD.
But they rattled up a string of positives and are in the hat for the fourth round draw.
Wolves set out with two rigid banks of four, worked hard and tried to close down the space while Boro laboured away in the opening half hour to try and break it down. There were a lot of long balls forward that proved fruitless. There were a lot of moves that broke down as they got to the edge of the box only for the final ball to be blocked or deflected or for Kike with his back to goal being crowded out.
But Boro quickly got a grip on the game. They were cool in possession and stayed patient as they passed and probed and gradually started to stretch Wolves at the back and create gaps to play into and from the moment Albert got the well worked opener there was only ever one outcome.
After the break more space started to appear and Boro were sharp in exploiting it and they added two more good goals – Fabbrini and Albert again – to quickly to seal it while Kike put a deft chip into the side-netting and Diego rattled the bar as Wolves heads dipped late on.
Three and easy: On song Albert Adomah lashes past Carl Ikeme
Despite the industry needed to break down dogged Wolves it was in the end a comfortable and routine win and Boro could quite easily have had two or three more and Wolves boss Kenny Jackett was quick to admit that his team had been beaten by a far better side.
And there were some big positives on the night. Let’s list a few…
THE JOY OF SIX: Boro have won six games in a row. That is impressive and very difficult to achieve at any level of football . It is all very well saying this team was poor or that one made changes or we were lucky here or there, but six on the spin is not an easy trick to pull off. Especially in a topsy-turvy coupon-busting league like the Championship. Even the best sides stumble, make mistakes, suffer injustice, get held to a draw, or dominate but get caught on the break. Make no mistake, winning six on the spin is impressive stuff that deserves great respect. And Boro have have done it twice in eight months.
Since the dismal defeat to Bristol City Aitor Karanka’s side have won four in the league and smashed ancient hoodoos at Hillsborough and the City Ground to boot and have got through two rounds of the League cup. They have scored 15 goals and leaked just four and have built a bit of momentum as they have powered up to second place. And all that while bedding in new players. In that run Nugent and Stuani have evolved from late cameos to regular starters, quickly found their feet and now look the real deal.
BEYOND THE FRINGE: Boro made seven changes and the players who came in all did well. It will give Aitor a headache when it comes to picking the team for Leeds.
Adam Forshaw started and looked a good fit alongside Grant, Kike returned up front and worked hard and linked well, Nando Amorebieta looks a rock solid Championship centre-back, Tomas Kalas played in the middle and was solid and linked far better with on-song Nsue than the last time out at Bournemouth (*shudder*) and after a slow start and few below par outings Fabbrini grew into the game and linked well in a polished front four that interchanged crisply and moved well. And Carlos…
Welcome to Teesside Carlos de Pena: New boy makes Boro bow
DYNAMIC DEBUT: Carlos de Pena got two and a half assists in a promising first appearance. After a slow start he started to impose himself on the game. It was his low cross that got tangled in a defender’s legs and squirted into the path of Albert for the opener. Then he neatly dummied in the box to wrong-foot the Wolves defence and allow Diego to blast home. And then he slotted a neat diagonal through a crowd for Albert to crack in the third. That’s not a bad bow. He flagged a bit towards the end but this is a tough league with a high tempo. He’ll get better. I’m looking forward to that.
ALBERT’S HAUL: Two more goals for Albert since bursting back from the naughty step. He has responded exactly as everyone hoped he would, bring zest , trickery and a threat down the right to the party… and goals. That’s three in three now. Big hugs.