Boro Fail To Keep Company With Wolves
By Rob Nichols
Saturday 31 Mar 2018 12:26:00
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Despite going down to just nine men Wolves defeated Boro at the Riverside to move close to promotion and leave major doubts over Middlesbrough's promotion credentials. Boro found it hard to break down the well-organised Midlanders and even having the ace of the outstanding Traore on board was not enough to give Boro the cutting edge we sadly lacked.

Wolves showed their Championship leader credentials by going for the kill straight after Helder Costa's opener and ensuring a match winning second quickly followed. On the other hand, you will struggle to find a more cynical team of players, back room staff and even set of fans. Reportedly intimidation started in the tunnel, extended to bookings for time wasting in the first half, rolling around feigning injury and crowding the referee for cards every time they were fouled. It left a bad taste and helped knock Boro out of their early stride. It also made you forget what an accomplished side they are led by the brilliant Neves in midfield. Until he got a red card that is.

Boro started well, closing down the space with Clayton and Leadbitter leading by example. Downing and Traore made in-roads and delivered dangerous early balls into the box. In the centre Bamford was isolated and struggled with his touch and execution all night.

Quickly Wolves changed tack, spread themselves wide and forced Traore back onto the defensive taking him completely out of the game. Leadbitter was cautioned for preventing a break away by hacking down a forward. This was followed by theatrical reactions to challenges by Shotton and Bamford. Boro were rattled and suddenly Wolves seized control and kicked on at pace.

You had to feel sorry for Darren Randloph as both goals followed brilliant reaction saves only for unmarked forwards to pounce. Helder Costa was at the near post to finish after our goal had been peppered with shots.

The league leaders immediately stepped on the gas and gunned for a killer second. Randolph was forced into a flying stop but the corner sailed over Bamford and all the defenders heads. Randolph made an amazing save only to see the ball land for Cavaleiro to finish from close range.

It was now a situation where Boro had to cling on til half time and avoid being put even further behind. Wolves were markedly better in the centre and rocking us back down the flanks. We could not cope with their movement or passing inter play.

Half time guest and super scorer John Hickton told the crowd we needed more forwards and forward play in the second half and that was absolutely spot on.

Tony Pulis did change things. He fielded the same eleven but Traore switched with Downing and immediately got into the game and forced Wolves onto the defensive.

The away side's only answer to Traore was to hack him down and to the referee's credit he was not slow to dish out the yellows for a succession ugly fouls on the winger. Boro should have pulled a goal back when Traore slalomed majestically through the Wolverhampton centre before setting the ball on a plate for Bamford running into the box. Sadly the in-form centre forward slipped at the vital moment.

Then came a real flashpoint. A Wolves breakaway and did Friend bring the man down or did he lose control and take a dive? The Wolves bench were in no doubts. The men in black and there were so many of them were up in arms and very aggressive. The referee and linesman were up with play and certain there was no contact.

Minutes later, to add insult to injury, George Friend was hacked by Neves when cutting inside into the box. It was a definite foul and a definite second booking. Red.

Now it was game on. But things would get even more serious for the visitors when the full back led with his elbow in challenging Friend. Again there could be no doubt it was at least a yellow and a second one. Off. Nine men.

Boro did not show enough composure to take advantage of the situation. We had almost half an hour to plot a route to goal. We dominated possession but snatched at the final shot, time and again. Besic carried the ball forward but froze in the headlights every time he was near the box. Britt came on but looked ponderous and didn't even create one single chance for himself or others for that matter.

Howson did hit a rasping drive but it was blocked and Downing put the rebound wide. Traore tried to beat Ruddy at his near post. Ayala was inches away from several headers. Bamford could not get the ball out of his feet. There was no composure.

Bamford finally scored but with only a minute and a half of time added on remaining we had little time to take advantage. Yet the striker hammered a shot that was blocked by a Wolves head and Downing once again put the rebound wide.

It had been an action packed, event filled game but Boro had failed once again to beat a top six side. We had failed to beat a team reduced to nine men. We had looked out classed at times in the first half and tactically out thought. Traore was a defender in the first period. Clayton was working hard throughout but largely chasing shadows.

We have to quickly regroup and defeat Burton on Monday. Then we need to start defeating teams in and around us. At the moment we look short in midfield. We are going to have to think of ways to make up this short fall.

It wasn't a Good Friday as Wolves proved too good on the night for Boro

Boro 0-2 Wolves

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