Boro Five Goal Cup Thriller
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 06 Jan 2019 12:13:00
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Middlesbrough won the battle of the Boro teams with a decisive 5-0 victory that excited the 11 000 crowd. It might have been different if Peterborough had taken clear cut chances in a largely pedestrian first half. Yet from the moment Britt Assombalonga hussled a rebound over the line early in the second period, the cards were marked for Posh Boro and it was only a matter of how many for northern Boro.

It was third round of the FA Cup weekend, where the big boys enter the oldest football knock out competition in the world. Having already taken in a qualifier round up at Blyth this was not my first footing into the tournament. For me the magic is still there to be experienced in spade loads if you want it. And at the basement prices charged at the Riverside, far lower than for Blyth Spartans v York City, then there was every inducement to experience it.

Peterborough fans arrived in bus loads. Doubtless they were buoyed up with the hopes they could emulate the very recent giant killing of their fellow League One side Burton in the Carabao. It was great to see such a strong away following adding to an atmosphere that would have otherwise been pretty thin due to the wide open spaces of unsold seats around the Riverside. In the end all those present were treated to a second half of goals galore. We witnessed goals of great quality and delighted in the performance of a few young players of great promise as well as more seasoned pros turning the clock back. Not to mention the celebration of a historic landmark in Boro's oldest ever FA Cup player in Dimi Konstantopoulos. In many ways a treat then.

There have been challenging times of late for Boro fans but the last three games have been enjoyable viewing. This Boro embarked on another cup adventure at the Riverside with Posh Boro standing in our way. Like our own Boro this is a Peterborough club with a reputation for bringing through a host of young talent in recent years. I wonder if there were any on display that will end up in higher leagues in future. Like our own Britt Assombalonga who looked from the start determined to really make his mark against the club where he initially flowered.

In a bitty first half the best chance of all fell to Ivan Toney who with the goal gaping in front of him lost his composure and blazed over the goal. Perhaps it was the looming presence of Dimi Konstantopoulos, closing down on the Peterborough forward, clearly set on keeping a clean sheet on his record breaking appearance.

Boro's new loan signing Van La Parra sparkled briefly in the first period, sending over several accurate centres and showing off his passing skills. His lack of match fitness was obvious and prevented him passing opponents. Hopefully the Huddersfield man will have gained fitness and confidence from his 45 minutes at the Riverside.

Boro re-organised after the break. Lewis Wing came on for Van La Parra and quickly made an impact alongside his evergreen skipper, Grant Leadbitter, as the two dominated the centre of the park. Marucs Tavernier now operated wide right and Ashley Fletcher moved wide left. Tav was constantly buzzing up and down, Fletcher showed quick feet and real determination. It was his shot that would rebound around as Rudy Gestede pressured the keeper for Britt to plant firmly and squarely in the net against his old club.

Minutes later George Friend set up Fletcher who held off his man to run round the corner and square for Friend to tap in from the centre forward position, a mirror image of his recent goal at Reading.

Now the floodgates threatened to open. Especially when Lewis Wing was given far too much space and blasted home the kind of 25 yarder goal that has quickly become a Wing trademark. Wonderful.

A wonderful flick from Rudy Gestede set up Britt to make a cool finish and make it FOUR. Maybe some should think again about the qualities big Rudy possesses.

There had to be thoughts of a first Boro hat trick for Britt, probably why he wasn't subbed. Sub Harrison Chapman showed a touch of genius when he turned an opponent and then bissected the Posh defence with the outside of the foot pass that put Britt in the clear. The former Posh centre forward went tumbling looking in vain for a penalty in the area.

Young forward Stephen Walker came on and showed speed, strength and awareness. The England youth international was involved in the build up to the fifth and final goal. It was Paddy McNair that eventually crossed and Ashley Fletcher capped a sparkling display with a near post clip, without backlift and into the corner of the net.

Some outstanding performances then, both from individuals and the team. Will some of those players, young and old, still be here at the end of the month? One man who has seen it all before is Dimi Konstantopoulos. It was a great pleasure to share his big day, a historic one as the oldest player to pull on a Middlesbrough shirt in the oldest knockout trophy. If that isn't the magic of the FA Cup then I don't know what is.

Middlesbrough 5-0 Peterborough – scorers Britt (2), Friend, Wing, Fletcher

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