That Friday Feeling: Boro Battlers Are Perfect Ten

BATTLING Boro made it a perfect 10 of fantastic Friday wins with a double digit demolition of QPR.

The pulsating 3-2 win at Loftus Road was the tenth straight Friday night triumph under Aitor Karanka, an incredible calendar coincidence. And with back-to-back wins – Hull and QPR- firing Boro back into the promotion hot-spots, Friday is fast becoming Teesside’s favourite day of the week.

1Shuhhs

            Shhhhhhh: Grant silences QPR fans who had jeered his penalty miss

Before the Rangers routing Boro had won nine on the spin in that slot under Karanka

Hull (h) 1-0
Wolves (h) 2-1
Ipswich (a) 2-0
QPR (h) 1-0
Brentford (h) 3-0 

Brentford (a) 2-1
Norwich (a)1-0
Wigan (h)1-0
Forest (h) 3-0

It may be a statistical quirk but it is one that has helped Boro’s TV stars galvanise a campaign that had been stuttering.

The Rangers win was massive. They all are. But this one felt psychologically significant beyond the norm.  Boro barged back into the promotion hot-spots with a pulsating performance that sent out some powerful signals.

They stopped the rot on the road with a vital victory after three away defeats on the spin. Those defeats to struggling sides – Blackburn, Rotherham and Charlton – had left the season in the balance and had fostered dark fears among fans that the season was starting to crack.

To go away to a team that had won five out of six at home including their last three and a test in real style showed spirit and resolve. That was important. Important too to do it after the Hull game, a politically charged game that was driven by the need to show unity.

To do it again in the next ‘routine’ game was crucial to keep the promotion charge alive. Boro are often accused of lifting themselves for champagne games with title rivals but flopping in bread and butter ones but there was none of that.

Boro grabbed the game by the throat with Adam Clayton dominating, a midfield terminator with a psychic satnav that saw everything before it happened.

Another positive was the way they bounced back from having a lead chipped away with a sizzler at ‘just the wrong time’ and roared out of the blocks after the interval when they are so often accused of coming out flat.

They responded to missing a penalty in the most emphatic style possible, a steely Grant Leadbitter punishing the spot-kick save with a laser guided whipped corner delivery that was just as deadly.

They rammed home their advantage when Rangers were rocking to show they do have a ruthless streak, they do have teeth, they do have goals.

And they dug deep to hold on against a late assault, a goal being clawed back and an intense atmosphere. A lot of fans were braced for a brittle side to implode. They didn’t. They stayed strong. They stayed focussed. They were physically and mentally strong.

It was fantastic to watch a team ticking all the boxes of the promotion palette.

There were some other important markers put down too.

1Rhodes

         Textbook: penalty box predator Jordan Rhodes does what he was bought for

Jordan Rhodes got a morale-boosting goal straight out of the poachers’ text-book to set the ball rolling.  It wasn’t the prettiest goal but it was exactly what he was brought in to do: he anticipated the squirt from the defender’s head, reacted superbly to peel away, get onto the bounce, find space and steer a diagonal sweep goalwards having left the keeper dazed and confused.

Yes he got lucky. With the glance, with the bounce, in the defender missing a chance to clear off the line but so what. That’s what he is there to do.

It was another hoodoo smashed. Boro had only won ONCE at Loftus Road ever before this. After Ipswich, Forest, Wednesday and Wolves that pile of historic debris is mounting fast.

And it was important too to get a result that would pile the pressure on the other promotion pretenders. Brighton take on Burnley today knowing that if they don’t win they will be behind Boro having played a game more leaving them playing catch-up and with a visit to the Riverside looming.

Now let’s see what they are made of.

 

 

 

 

HAVE you enjoyed the international break? All relaxed? Heart-rate dropped back to normal? Stomach unknotted? Nails grown back nicely? That will soon all suddenly switch back with a frightening physical intensity as we get thrown back into the maelstrom of teeth-clenching emotional agony and nerve-wracked nausea. Or ‘normal’ as I call it.

The trip to QPR will bring another massive hike in temperature inside the promotion pressure cooker. Boro need to get something. A draw would take them above Brighton on goal difference and set them us for the Titanic three home clashes in a row but a win at Loftus Road would really turn the screw on Brighton who face table-toppers Burnley in a summit six pointer on Saturday.

If the Seagulls kick-off trailing Boro (who will still have a game in hand and a better goal difference) the pressure will all be heaped on them. They can’t afford to lose. That would leave them playing catch-up with a game fewer and Boro to visit on the last day.

So it is another massive weekend looming. QPR is a massive games. All the other games are huge too. And the top of the table is still in flux. Everything is up for grabs.

Of course, Boro need to get something at QPR. They need to put on a solid show and stop the rot on the road after three damaging defeats on the spin away from home. They need to send out a powerful message that the grit and unity on show against Hull wasn’t a one-off, that the mysterious unspoken “everything that happened” is behind us. And they need to emphatically show Boro are very much still promotion – and title? – contenders.

But if Boro get something at Loftus Road – never a happy hunting ground – then what? What is the best outcome for us on Saturday? Where is our collective proxy support and the tangible waves of will power being directed?

Do we want Brighton to win to peg Burnley and take some steam out of them, dent their confidence and make concrete the lack of conviction shown in recent games and maybe open the door to a serious Boro push for the top spot? If we win our game in hand we will be breathing down the necks again with Turf Moor to visit. It will be game on.

Or do we enter a Faustian Pact with football bouncer Sean Dyche and write off our own title prospects and instead urge the Clarets on to to win? That would badly dent the Seagulls surge and boost our own bid for second spot. If they were to lose and Boro were to win we would go two points clear with a game in hand. Which would do nicely.

Obviously a draw would be nice too. Ish. That would mean we could close in on Burnley a bit, or at least they wouldn’t be heading towards the horizon – but it would boost morale for Brighton, enhance their own ambitions for the title and leave an ever tighter three-way squeeze at the top. I’m not sure Teesside’s fragile psyche could cope.

Usual drill: predict the score and how the game pans out, and the Brighton v Burnley score too if you fancy. I think Boro will edge the tightest and tensest match possible at QPR. I’m going for fit-again set-piece penalty box pest Dani Ayala to bundle home in ungainly and disputed fashion from a corner. Possibly in the last five minutes. I’ll be hysterical by then.

 

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141 thoughts on “That Friday Feeling: Boro Battlers Are Perfect Ten

  1. Elsewhere, an article in the morning papers talks about Conte going to Chelsea as manager.

    It talked at length about the squad, who was leaving, transfer targets and kids coming through. No mention of Patrick Bamford, lets hope it works out for him.

  2. I think Bamford has been badly advised this season – just eight appearances all season and only one start and no goals. If you can’t even get much pitch time at a club one place off the drop zone then it should be telling him that he needs to drop down a division to move forward.

    He won’t be even be on Conte’s list of players, let alone in his thoughts. He should have joined one of the Championship contenders and maybe he would at least have an option of playing PL football next season.

    Not sure where he goes from here as nobody will be chasing a striker who hasn’t scored for a whole season – incidentally his record at Boro was almost 1 in 2, clearly he needs pitch time and that doesn’t look likely in the PL at the moment.

    It’s a bit like Lee Tomlin, he also hasn’t managed to recapture anything like the form he had at Boro.

    Perhaps that should be noted by other players in our squad – probably with the exception of Downing, Rhodes, de Pena and possibly a few others – OK not much of a rule there then…

  3. AV, are we ready for the Huddersfield match. I am as optimist as ever and I will go for a 4-0 win. We must match Burnley for GD. And at once. We need to win a trophy this year. So be it the Championship of Championship.

    Thw goal tonight: Ayala from corner and three by Rhodes. A bit optimistic as Hudds are a well organized side, though.

    Up the Boro!

  4. Title Tilting Tuesday!

    I believe that tonight may be pivotal in the countdown to the season’s end. Birmingham host Brighton and Derby host Hull. Two home wins there would not be beyond reality, throw in a Boro home victory and a gap with a game in hand starts to open up between us and Brighton.

    Bunley are hosting Cardiff who are on a decent run of form themselves second only to Burnley over the last 8 games in the form tables having just scalped Derby (who will be hurting badly) at the weekend. If and I accept that its a big “if” Burnley’s unbeaten run (16 games?) ends tonight then it gets very interesting at the top for Boro!

    I’m going for a Jarkko inspired:

    Birmingham 2-1 Brighton
    Derby 1-0 Hull
    Burnley 1-2 Cardiff

    and

    Boro 2-0 Huddersfield

    Even if our competitors draw tonight it still tips the balance heavily in our favour. I’m estimating 23,217 tonight which is a far cry from not so long ago when I sat with allegedly around another 11,000 hardy souls one Tuesday night against Huddersfield at the Riverside.

    Of course there is always a “Typical Boro” scenario.

  5. The P word is not doing my angina , I did say angina, any good,
    Let’s embrace we are definitely in the play offs,
    Can we not mention it until we are four points ahead with one game to go, and are top.,

    1. Glad you said that twice GT as I had to read it twice just to make sure – set of glasses needed in me old age I believe.

      🙂

  6. Maybe for a bit of in depth perspective its worth noting that Derby could slip out of the Play off places should they fail to register points tonight and Cardiff win so the Rams will be up for it against the Tigers. Likewise the Bluebirds have a chance of entering the Play off positions if they win and Derby lose.

    Ipswich are breathing down both their necks and host Charlton at home tonight (I’m saying nothing) so they could catch Cardiff if they lose and be only two points of 6th placed Derby should they not pick up any points against Hull.

    Birmingham could draw level on points with Ipswich should Charlton repeat unlikely beach ball inspired heroics at Portman Road which could leave them just 5 points off Derby but with a game in hand. Tonight’s fixture schedule promises to crush some hopes and elevate others to dream the impossible dream should results go their way. Even Preston currently level on points with Brum could “Reach” for the Play off dream with a home game against Fulham.

    Lots of anxiety, jangling nerves, plenty to play for and sure as heck somebody somewhere is going to rue tonight come 10.00pm.

  7. Redcar Red

    I will be listening on the lappie with TV in the background on Skysports, the radio with Burnley v Cardiff and the live scores and table on the BBC website on the desktop.

    I will of course also have the Gazette up on the lappie.

    Texts will be flying between John Powls and myself, my son is out so will want updating.

    My wife thinks men cant multi task.

  8. What an opportunity and a half, three home games on the bounce and at the crunch end of the season. We are capable of nine points from three games, whether we choose to take this opportunity is another matter, but I believe AK has learned enough to manage the team in this situation and the players I think have the message to do what is required and to keep their toys in the pram.

    I think Ramirez will be the difference in these next three games, great player and he will be on the score sheet tonight.

    UTB. (still bitter about the mutiny, but Its fading day by day)

    1. I think it was Leo’s fault! Wonder if he’ll be on warp factor 9 snorting/chest beating effect tonight?

      UTB

      🙂

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