Can Boro Rob The Robins?
By Rob Nichols
Friday 01 Dec 2017 16:42:00
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Middlesbrough need to hit back tomorrow in the tea time kick off at the much revamped Ashton Gate. We must cut out the errors and score to close the gap opening above us. Opponents Bristol City are now 5 points ahead of us. Boro have to show top form now and bounce back. Kick off 5.30pm.

Boro fell apart in a nightmare second half v Derby. One of several players that helped gift wrap that game to the Rams is Daniel Ayala, suspended at Bristol City. So, he will have no opportunity for an early atonement for his self destructive, counter productive display. If it is Dael Fry that steps in, then the youngster and Ben Gibson must act to keep it tight at the back.

Bristol City has not been a happy hunting ground for us in recent seasons. This campaign we famously suffer vertigo against all the clubs in the upper echelons of the table. We will have to dig deep and show a real reaction to the Rams raiding to reverse the recent trend in the west country.

One player with happy memories against the Bristol Robins is Britt Assombalonga, he likes scoring at Ashton Gate and is on a real hot streak away from home for Boro. Hopefully we can build a victory around a true Britt performance.

Jonny Howson is back from his suspension, Garry Monk might choose to bring him straight back in to add more dynamism to midfield and the rested Leadbitter could step back in for Adam Clayton. I didn’t really think that Clayton did anything wrong, it was others making the mistakes around him that cost us dear. Yet skipper Leadbitter is a lucky talisman this season and is unlikely to be left out for long.

Stewart Downing was another that worked hard and really pressed Derby back in the first half. Can we see Downing and the full backs combine to open up the home side down the flanks? Britt and Braithwaite can then apply the finish.

It was so unlike Martin Braithwaite to make that so costly unforced error last week and he is likely to be given a chance to repair some of the damage. Yet there is no doubt that either Adama Traore or Patrick Bamford could offer a great deal to Boro’s attack if given a start. That will be a big decision for the under pressure manager to make. I wonder if he is trying to keep a fairly settled starting line up and that Traore and Bamford are going to have to wait for injuries or suspensions to grab their chance.

Bristol City are going to be without winger Callum O’Dowda (injured and out for 8 to 10 weeks) but welcome back left back Joe Bryan to the squad.

For Boro it will be great to have big Rudy Gestede back and pressing a claim for selection. He has scored an awful lot of goals at this level and has got to be a more than useful sub option.

It is a long journey down to the city on the banks of the Avon but the journey back will seem a whole lot sweeter and shorter if Boro can grab a win. Remember, despite the phenomenal start for Lee Johnson’s side, they have lost two of the last three games at home. We need to score first to increase the pressure and then turn the screw.

 

Come on Boro…

 



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