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Middlesbrough 3-1 Town
Middlesbrough 3-1 Town
Saturday, 12th Sep 2009 16:54

Town remain without a league victory and remain second bottom of the table after a 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough. Jon Walters netted an injury time penalty for the Blues after Gary O’Neil and Jeremie Aliadiere (2) had put the home side into an unassailable lead.

All three of Town’s new signings made their debuts, Liam Rosenior at right-back, Carlos Edwards at wide right and Grant Leadbitter in the centre of midfield. Jaime Peters returned from injury to start at left midfield with Jon Walters up front.

David Wright and Pim Balkestein were amongst those left out of the 18, along with Connor Wickham, who has been suffering with a groin injury, and who scored in this morning’s U18s 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.

In sweltering conditions on Teesside, early chances were rare in a stop-start opening spell. On seven, David Wheater lashed a freekick into a Town wall.

Town had enjoyed most of the possession in the early stages but without threatening Danny Coyne’s goal, however, on 15 the home side went in front.

Gary O’Neil chased a long ball over the top into the area and took a dive under pressure from Damien Delaney. Referee Kevin Friend waved away Boro’s penalty claims but failed to act against the dive. Gareth McAuley was unable to clear the danger and Marvin Emnes looped the ball back into the box and O’Neil’s header beat Richard Wright.

Jon Walters headed Town’s first real chance straight at Coyne from Peters’s cross on 24.

Referee Kevin Friend had hardly endeared himself to the visiting supporters with his lack of action prior to the goal and continued to frustrate Town fans, booking Grant Leadbitter for a relatively innocuous foul on 27.

Town continued to have decent spells and on 31 Jaime Peters played a ball back into the box after a corner, McAuley headed goalwards but the ball was blocked. Alex Bruce’s rebound was deflected wide.

Delaney joined Leadbitter in the book in the 36th minute, prior to Boro defender Andrew Taylor leaving the field on a stretcher after appearing to turn his ankle.

Referee Friend’s card-happy approach continued with Jack Colback cautioned for what looked like a perfectly good challenge on 42.

One-time Town loan target Adam Johnson was added to the book for a dive inside the area a minute later, referee Friend showing characteristic inconsistency.

Skipper Alex Bruce became Town’s fourth booking a minute before half-time for another challenge when the ball appeared to have been won clearly.

On 45 Colback bundled the ball into his own net from an O’Neil cross, but the linesman’s flag had already been raised.

Just before the break, Johnson unleashed a 25-yard effort which Wright tipped over the bar.

Neither side had particularly impressed during a scrappy half with the Blues enjoying one or two decent spells with the new trio all having their moments. Rosenior and Edwards both made one or two pacy runs down the right, while Leadbitter showed a willingness to dictate the game and make tackles in central midfield.

Again though, quality had been lacking in and around the box and a mistake had again led to an opposition goal.

The Blues started the second period slowly but Boro failed to create anything of note. It was Alex Bruce who would manage the half’s first strike, the ball deflecting wide. Two minutes later, a Walters shot also struck a defender and went wide.

On the hour, Tamás Priskin and Alan Quinn replaced Pablo Couñago and Jack Colback.

Julio Arca was yellow-carded by referee Friend in the 62nd minute for the latest in a succession of fouls to sarcastic cheers from the visiting supporters.

Peters had the ball in the net on 63 but having strayed into an offside position. Moments later, the Canadian found himself playing at left-back with Lee Martin replacing Damien Delaney.

The home side increased their lead soon after. An Emnes cross flew in from the left and Aliadiere got away from McAuley at the near post and sent a header across Wright and into the net.

Town continued to huff and puff and Walters shot into the sidenetting on 67 when a cross would have been a better option. Soon after, McAuley headed over from a corner.

Carlos Edwards showed a glimpse of his long distance shooting prowess in the 75th minute, forcing Coyne into a low save to his left. From the corner, McAuley headed to the keeper.

O’Neil was booked for a foul on Edwards on 80, four minutes before his side completed their scoring. Edwards lost possession 15 yards outside the area, Marvin Emnes feeding Aliadiere, who twisted and turned on the edge of the area and struck a shot beyond Wright from the edge of the box.

A section of the Town support began chanting “Keano, sort it out” as Johnson shot wide from 25 yards.

Martin became the Blues’ fifth booking as the game entered injury time, moments before Walters broke into the box on the right and was tripped by Seb Hines. The former Chester man took the kick himself and beat Coyne.

There was no further time for a Town fightback and referee Friend’s whistle blew, signalling another defeat for the Blues.

The scoreline flattered the home side, but it was Boro who took their relatively few chances and who at the other end failed to make the defensive errors which led to their goals.

Town had spells where they had the better of the game, with Leadbitter particularly impressing in the first half, but all too often crosses were either under or overhit, or players failed to find that vital pass in the danger area. Plenty of set pieces in potentially dangerous areas were won, but largely came to nothing.

All three new players had their moments, but the team continues to look disjointed with so many new signings coming into the side in recent weeks, while further additions at the back and up front still look needed if the Blues are going to make any impact this season.

An early Town goal might have led to a different game, but Boro’s clinical finishing and solid defending were the difference between the two sides.

Town: R Wright, Rosenior, Delaney (Martin 64), McAuley, Bruce, Colback (Quinn 60), Leadbitter, Peters, Edwards, Walters, Couñago (Priskin 60). Unused: Lee-Barrett, Smith, Stead, Trotter. Att: 19,742.

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