Boro Looking For High Noon Victory v Sunderland
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 05 Nov 2017 10:17:00
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High noon and the most eagerly awaited home game of the season, the A19 derby, Boro v Sunderland. Can Middlesbrough turn two victories in a row into a treble by winning at home today against Sunderland? Yes, no ordinary game this one, as if there wasn’t enough at stake already this is the Tees Wear derby, the one game you simply cannot lose and you have to win.  Let’s do it. Kick off 12.15pm.

There will be a cauldron of noise at the Riverside for this high noon shoot out between the old rivals. It isn’t a derby match of course, thousands of Sunderland fans will tell you that, again and again and again. They protest too much.

Sunderland have had a truly shocking start to the season. Now without a manager following Simon Grayson’s dismissal. He was their safe pair of hands for the Championship but it has been the trademark of the Ellis Short years that nothing and no one is permanent, everyone is temporary. You have to wonder just how low they could sink under the hapless leadership of their American owner. How they must wish for a stable, homegrown, Steve Gibson figure.

Boro can rub the Mackems noses in it today but really our priorities and goals are all focused on our own fortunes. A win against Sunderland would provide the ideal confidence booster for players and fans alike. We have won well on the road at Reading and Hull, now we need to bring it all back home and start to rebuild fortress Riverside again. A victory over Sunderland would be a giant step towards that and push us back into play off territory.

Garry Monk could well go unchanged again. The only injury doubt from the team that has succeeded so well away from home will be Fabio who limped off at Hull. George Friend is more than an able deputy, he is chomping at the bit to reclaim the left back berth permanently and add his energy and bustling runs down that flank.

Two players with Sunderland connections will again by key for Boro. Stewy Downing’s career was kick started by a loan spell on Wearside, he can provide the passing to unlock their leaky defence. Skipper Grant Leadbitter has been leading by example, converting two penalties in two games. Expect him to stamp his authority on midfield and show his hometown club the route to 3 points.

We will be looking towards Britt Assombalonga continuing his goalscoring run. He will look to unsettle the Black Cats defenders and time his runs to the back post to find the back of the net.

Martin Braithwaite will be experiencing his first A19 derby but he is such a talent, he has the tools to really damage the Sunderland cause.

Marcus Tavernier has the enthusiasm of youth but also incredible discipline for his teenage years. He works tirelessly defensively but has the vision to deliver a killer flick or pass to open up the opposition.

Daniel Ayala looks back to his best again and we can expect his partnership with Ben Gibson to start forging an impenetrable shield in front of keeper Darren Randolph. We have not conceded first in the last two games and it is now even longer since we fell behind in the opening minutes. We can kill off that bad habit for good today and give the fans real confidence that this is a team no longer playing with fear but having found its feet and kicking forward.

It is a lovely crisp sunny morning by the Tees. An ideal setting for 30 000 fans to file past the inspiring words of Alastair Brownlee, emblazoned across Shepherdson Way and get fired up to roar the team on to a big, big Tees Wear victory.

Come On Boro – let’s make mayhem and misery for the Mackems and deliver 3 points at home to re enter the promotion race again.


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