|Middlesbrough 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 29th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
|Dallas_Blues added 17:04 - Dec 29|
guentchev added 20:48 - Dec 29
Mullet added 20:51 - Dec 29
Lambert did not stick with the same back 5 as you’d expect, Gerken had Pennington and Chambers with Spence on the right and Kenlock debuting for the Scot on the left. Knudsen on the bench was met with confident rumours on Teeside he was all but gone, to where or when unconfirmed. With Elder of Leicester mooted it seems a likely guess.
Chalobah, Downes and Nolan were the three in the middle with the Chelsea lad taking up the Skuse mantle behind and between his colleagues. Lambert opted for purer pace up front with Sears on the left, Edwards on the right and Jackson in the middle. It was a valiant and sensible approach but was to yield little more than any other combination on any other week.
The Boro fans were aghast with what they had been served by Pulis in recent weeks, a lack of goals, defenders upon the shoulders and shadows defenders, and strikers who couldn’t finish. All propped up by physical, sitting midfielders. It was in the pub and confirmed in the programme notes that Pulis has a brief of curbing and reordering the house at the Riverside after years of big spending and scant reward. Neither fan nor manager were joking when the opening minutes produced some of the worst football seen at this level for decades.
Headers and huffing weren’t even broken up by hoofing. It wasn’t until Chalobah was felled by an accidental Wing, clutching his face where elbow landed on halfway that there was any sense of respite or resettlement to try and play from either side.
A man nearly as old as my Dad and dressed like he was off to manage the local Under 8’s not a top six side, it is notable that the wee Jimmy Kranky of English football management has turned out a side despite its depth of talent; so dour, so defensive and so ugly it is a throwback to the circus spectacles of yore.
Hugill a striker we once coveted was given a great opportunity after Downing had tested Kenlock early on to great effect. When the front man was finally through with a decent distance and sigh of goal he skied into the silent end and ether behind the goal with impressive inaccuracy.
Before then only deflection and dipping volleys had seen Boro threaten the Town goal from Howson and Downing who enjoyed success down our left. However, it was the same flank that saw Sears and the overlapping Kenlock combine to cut triangles out of the Boro box and neat reversal let Freddie fire low at the front post for a routine stop.
Chalobah was unsure what to do with so much space to play in. He dazzled when turning tight to onrushing challengers, and bored by the expanse between him and the home team’s back 8 he often lopped a Hollywood ball out wide to a full back, gaining polite applause but little territory or angle of attack.
Unfortunately, that dazzle turned out to be merely the hazards amid the debilitating red smog as he earnt a silly but necessary booking hauling down a man by his shirt on the edge of the box. Boro failed to punish us, but then the ref then failed to punish Besic who was naughty, if not nasty with a clear challenge from behind to ensure Nolan got no further than the ground just ahead of him.
The freekick saw Town waste a short but well played corner, earnt from a great header on target by Trev which had Randolph scrambling like a 2nd rate air force and acrobatically deflecting the aerial assault on his far post.
This game did not feel like comfortable playoff contenders vs struggling remnants of folly until the 37th minute. Hugill and Spence challenged for a cross. Hugill appeared to slip, Friend fed into the line of the ball at the back post and Town rallied again. All whilst the ref who was under watchful Town eyes for past misdemeanours pointed to the spot. It was either a fiction or superb officiating, ultimately it doesn’t matter.
No one knew why, no one appealed in red or behind the goal, it seemed as Chambers asked for clarification the finger pointed from spot, to a bemused Spence, and back to spot again. From there the on-loan Hammer dealt town a death blow from 12 yards, firing low past Gerken.
All too often Ipswich have looked like a side who are good for seventy minutes, but alas games are played over ninety. Nothing reinforced this more than our one good chance before half time. Nothing breaks like a heart, except maybe Ipswich. A jagged, fleshy, squelch after a pump. The ball squirted, Jackson scampered under Flint’s hurried feet, to free it on the edge of the area. Nolan took receipt and deserves credit for one of many insightful passes that set away Sears. Freddie cut back to see a solid shot clatter off Randolph’s shins as Blues’ fans struggled to do more than gasp and clutch at the spectre of parity or life after half time.
In our last match Town took just two minutes after the break to surrender their lead. They needn’t have feared a repeat not just because they were not leading, but again because neither side got going very well after the break. Literally as the officiousness of the day saw the initial kick off made a rehearsal for no clear infringement.
Chambers had been a lion in the backline in the first half, nodding away every half-chipped cross and unclaimed loft from all-comers. He beat a paw against the turf in worrying fashion when his ankle seemed to meet the red tide and studs of Wing who yet again seemed clumsier than the more considered fouling from Boro in the same fixture last season.
We waited for a few minutes with baited breath to see if our bionic man would need repair or even replacing but he limped on behind Kenlock to boos from home fans clearly not versed in the Luke Chambers code of being harder than a man whose blood type is Viagra.
Boro had a penalty shout waved away when Downes went in on Saville. The Teesider deserved a card, as the ref waved away any foul. If not, then Downes should have got his second having lost his head previously with two nasty lunges that forced Simpson to book him just after the goal before the break.
It was an immature but necessary performance from young Flynn, laced with Scholesesque sh1thousery but not the passing or volleying associated with the Red Devil of old. Both he and Nolan joined Spence as players who put in creditable if unspectacular performances today.
The right back would then earn Boro sub Tavernier a clear card in the next piece of action. Old replaced by new as Downing jogged off from the right, Tavernier took a spot on the left and Pulis narrowed his phalanx to something with all the tactical grace of a fence panel.
Spence took not one, not two but three attempts to join his nutmeg on the other side of the legs and outstretched arms of Tavernier clawing at his shirt. Eventually the referee conceded where Boro should have done much earlier. The petulant kick away of the ball not punished but any of the trio of just deserving shunts one assumes.
Town wasted whatever they gained as it took mere minutes for the petulant to turn prodigious. Receiving the ball wide on the left Tavernier hit what from the away end appeared to be a Brazilian flavoured finish on the outside of his boot past a helpless Gerken. What the video screen revealed was a sh1t cross, deflecting off a lunging Chambers who did the right thing, but put the ball the wrong side of his post when really Gerken again will hit the floor with questions and despair hanging over him. We might see more changes of keeper this season than the previous 4 or 5 combined if this continues.
With Ipswich truly buried and the raw pace of Jackson replaced by the yet to be stunned and slaughtered attributes of Roberts, Lambert added to the attack something different but made little difference. Kayden had spent the game looking at the ball the way rich Victorian men looked at curiosities or objet d’art. Now it was Roberts’ turn to chase it all over the horizon and see it slip beyond his grasp.
Switching with Sears to the wing he initiated a great overlap with Kenlock who was received licence to roam by Boro swarming on our right flank and Nolan’s ability to pick a pass. When the former Shrew was replaced by Dozzell Town had the same ineffectiveness as previously.
Sears clattered half-shots off of shins, Andre then returned the ball to Kenlock who stopped it as his defender leapt, then he launched it for Roberts to header agonisingly wide in slow motion. It was the clearest attempt on goal either side would have from open play, and everyone involved from a Town perspective, deserved better.
Boro would see this as a moment to finally attack Town with some real intent. A double save first from sub Clayton saw Gerken beat away either effort from medium distance with strong but unconvincing hands. When the reds swarmed on yet another corner Hugill would take the last moment of the match to hit his best effort all day. Arcing neck sinew and spinning header into the far corner, the Town stopped was up to the task and produced his best save of the game, maybe season when it mattered least.
The official announcement claimed over 23k witnessed this spectacle, that was a lie. But whatever % of it was town was tiny. A few hundred allezed, shivered and shook in the end of year gloam. In every blue heart is a bird longing to sing, but all we can do is drown it in lager and service station coffee, let it choke on the smoking ruins of our club as we wait for tomorrow, and beyond that, someone to open a window.
Chocorange added 12:09 - Dec 30
Yes he caught the ball a few times, that's his job, the same as Chalobah to make tackles or Chambers to head it. Gerken did nothing exceptional yesterday. Goalies always overrated in these ratings.
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