Boro Ram Raided
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 26 Nov 2017 11:45:00
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Boro crashed to a sickening 3-0 defeat at home to Derby. A Matej Vydra hat trick, seizing on a spate of appalling individual errors resulted in a humiliating scoreline. Boro had dominated the first 45 minutes but everything unravelled so spectacularly that the ground was half empty long before the end of play.

It could have been all so different. Boro came out of the traps much more business-like. Adam Clayton, in for Grant Leadbitter and Adam Forshaw for the suspended Jonny Howson were the only changes from the line up that saw off Birmingham on Wednesday. We drove Derby back into their own half and they were clinging on at times as every cross and corner threatened to carve them open, with Stewart Downing and Martin Braithwaite particularly impressive.

The first turning point of the game was surely Scott Carson’s brilliant close-range reflex stop to stop Britt Assombalonga’s goal charge. Minutes later Vydra showed no such mercy as he raced through the Boro lines, got some luck with an inadvertent one-two off Ayala before smashing a truly unstoppable drive past Darren Randolph.

To be honest, as much as a costly blow as it was, the way Boro were pressing an equaliser looked on the cards. Carson looked rooted to the spot for corners, indeed their sub keeper was warming up, you had to wonder if the former England no.1 was injured. But we couldn’t capitalise and it was ironic that the best chance of all should fall to Fabio of all people, he turned up in the box to head over from close range.

And then came the second half!

Many fans were not back in their seats in time to see Martin Braithwaite playing the ball back from attack to defence and straight into the path of Vydra. Our defenders did manage to force him wide but Ayala caught him as he roared on past. Penalty. The only surprise was it was not a sending off for a player that had already been booked. Vydra never looked like missing.

What a catastrophic start to the half. Suddenly Boro were in all sorts of trouble, desperately trying to peg back the team that would now leap frog over us in the table. We had to press forward. We needed calm heads and composure as well as the need to lift our game.

Ayala actually had chances from corners before he committed his final sin. Boro had to take chances and we were caught on the break. The big centre back was beaten on the half way line, committed a professional foul and thus was sent off. This was one rash moment too many from Ayala and will be costly to the player as well as the team.

Now down to ten men and 2-0 against us, Darren Randolph of all people chose to do some ridiculously fancy footwork in the box. Instead of just putting his boot through it he instead presented the ball to, who else but Vydra, to convert his hat trick. How many goals has Matej Vydra now scored against Boro? He won’t have been gifted chances like this many times before but he was clinical and there is a huge lesson in that.

It is hard to be too harsh on Randolph as once again he made several superb saves and blocks either side of his golden give-away but it has been an accident waiting to happen, as for both Ireland and Boro he has lived a charmed life with scuffed kicks or dawdling on the ball. He must cut this out of his game.

Many booed when Garry Monk chasing a game withdrew Braithwaite and put on defender Dael Fry. I wondered whether the boss feared a catastrophic defeat by an even greater margin. Continuing to push forward at that point and leaving ourselves so exposed could meant we might have been staring at a 4, 5 ,6 or even worse home defeat?

The sorry sight of that third goal was a signal for many to exit the ground. The diehards roused themselves with songs of defiance. We did get to applaud off Downing, who like Fabio had really given everything we could have asked of him. We also were generous in applause to Dave Nugent, the wily forward never gives a defence any peace at all. Surely it was a ridiculous decision to release him last January.

We also saw Bamford and Traore come on and give it a go. A lovely lob over the defence from Traore put Bamford in the clear but the forward shot wide. Traore then danced past several defenders but dragged his shot narrowly wide of the posts. Too little too late of course but players who now really need to be given more game time.

So, what a disaster that was. A week since our last disaster at Elland Road. Where oh where are we going now? Round in circles it seems. It could be seen as tough on the manager when let down by a litany of individual errors. But Garry Monk has to get a grip on it. When Aitor Karanka came on to the scene the team was down on confidence and constantly made these type of mistakes. If you remember he shut up shop, build from the defence and we had to endure 0-0 after 0-0 until we came out of the other side.

Am not sure we want a repeat of that process but we have to find a way to instil the personal and as well as team discipline or else we are going to go nowhere fast and this season will be such a damp squib. A real let down.

Middlebrough 0-3 Derby County



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