Boro Blasted By Bristol
By Rob Nichols
Monday 04 Dec 2017 11:33:00
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Boro were left beaten and mentally bruised by defeat away at Bristol City. After the match, manager Garry Monk apologised to the 900 who had journeyed so far only to be badly let down in the Saturday evening defeat. A defeat that now leaves us in 9th place and dropping like a stone down the Championship table we all hoped and expected we might be heading. Bad times indeed.

It is Bristol City now eyeing up an assault on the automatic promotion places after taking Boro apart with two second half goals on Saturday. It was very even at half time in the televised game. But then the home side danced through our defence with ease and then almost repeated the move just minutes later.

Boro were handed an opportunity to get back in the match when Bristol defender Hordur Magnusson showed us exactly how to find the back of the net. But for all our late pressure we failed to create one clear cut chance to get an equaliser. At the end of the game Fabio’s swerving first half shot was our only effort on target. You won’t draw games let alone win them if you don’t create chances and force the opposition keeper to make saves.

One of the longer trips of the season and still 900 + travelled down for a big Saturday night out at the much-revamped Ashton Gate. Two sets of fans in red mingled in the café bars and pubs of Bedminster before being beckoned by the floodlights of what is largely a new stadium now. A stadium used for rugby as well as football but definitely now fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Some of the Boro supporters had taken a flight from Newcastle Airport, one couple told me they had booked well ahead for £40 return, staying two nights in the west country city. Hopefully they found somewhere to drown their sorrows after the defeat.

Garry Monk shifted his team around again following the terrible home defeat to Derby. In came Traore on the right, with a midfield of Howson and Adam Forshaw. Dael Fry stepped up for the suspended Daniel Ayala. It was a welcome back from injury to Rudy Gestede, he would come on from the bench.

For Bristol City, left back Joe Bryan was fit to return to the team. He would make that a scoring return.

It was a fairly even first half. City stayed very tight to Traore which gave Stewart Downing plenty of room to work down the right. Forshaw was very busy keeping the ball circulating and Fabio was extremely active. Yet we created very little.

Britt Assombalonga blasted wide, after Forshaw had intercepted through the middle. This was Britt’s only real chance of the game. The centre forward would be called upon to clear his own lines from a Bristol raid as the home team mounted a charge in the middle part of the first period.

Bristol City looked more incisive in their attacks, Boro only worked City keeper Frank Fielding once when he found Fabio’s long-range effort too hot to handle. So, 0-0 at half time, could we step it up after the break?

Within six minutes of the re start the home fans were celebrating taking the lead. Traore lost possession in the middle of the park but we had plenty of time to get behind the ball and cut out a Bristol attack down their right. Their player was not pressed at all and able to pick out his man at the back post with ease. Left back Joe Bryan was in acres of space and finished really well. Christie was caught between attackers, neither Downing or anyone else followed Bryan in. It was a real mess and a soft goal, well finished by the home side.

Three minutes later Boro were finished off. It was another mad goal from a Boro point of view. Boro won a free kick far up the field. Downing put the free kick into the wall and was disposed as it bounced back. Boro had pushed plenty forward in search of an equaliser and we raced back to get to grips with a City break away. Howson intercepted but unintentionally played the ball straight to a Bristol player who crossed and once more there was a man unmarked at the back post. 2-0.

Braithtwaite has looked jaded since the World Cup play offs, as has Christie, both looked really out of sorts. It was no surprise to see Braithwaite removed but surely Bamford would have been the better bet to replace him. He would have to wait for the final minutes to try and make an impact.

It was good to see Rudy Gestede return after his horrendous injury and the big man put himself about and produced a lot of positive touches, mainly with his feet. But Rudy's presence does mean that we are inclined to go for the aerial route.

Downing was subbed for Marvin Johnson, with Traore switched cross from left to right. I couldn’t help thinking that Downing and Traore should have been moved from flank to flank through the game. Downing is obviously at home on the left and Traore on the right, it would certainly have given the home defence more to think about.

The final minutes were made more interesting when big blonde defender Hordur Magnusson planted Forshaw’s free kick past his own keeper.  Could we capitalise on this lucky break?

Traore twice burst through from deep, too deep probably because the only way to stop him was to foul him or wait for him to stumble and fall. We could do with drawing those fouls in and around the box.

The final straw for many people was in the injury time free kick for a foul on the winger. Instead of going for goal Bamford passed square and Howson’s centre was cleared. It summed up much that was wrong with Boro’s play.

So, a third defeat in four games. Despite their enormous disappointment most Boro fans applauded their players from the field. It was like Christmas come early for Bristol City supporters celebrating a victory that sees them leaping forward and putting pressure on the automatic promotion places. Who would have thought going into this season that in December Boro would be dropping into mid table and Bristol City eyeing up promotion.

There is a long way to go of course. But for Garry Monk the first task is to arrest this alarming descent. He is quite right to point out what we are all thinking this team and squad looks superb on paper but it is now back firing to the point of near unravelling.

After that game people were talking about not understanding what Boro’s pattern of play is all about this season. We have rarely dominated opponents to glimpse just what the Garry Monk plan means in action.

I am not about to join the clamour for a change of boss. In the summer all the chatter I heard in football from journalists and other football people was that Garry Monk was rated as a real high flyer. For me it is far too short termist to end that relationship this early. But we do need to see a plan starting to take root. We have to see players doing their jobs and it has to become more evident what those jobs are.

The whole club was set up this season to bounce straight back but we are in danger at the moment of even slipping out of play off contention. So, in short we must start performing. Let’s see Monk’s Middlesbrough emerging v Ipswich.




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