Boro's Super Sunday Best at Blackburn
By Robert Nichols
Monday 18 Feb 2019 11:45:00
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Middlesbrough saved one of the best performances of the season for live tv and even more importantly it came just when we needed it after several weeks studded with set-backs. Derby were breath down necks only separated by goal difference Although on the face of it, a 1-0 win against a team reduced to ten men, does not look over impressive, Boro were dominant throughout. The 1-0 win at the home of Blackburn Rovers was the perfect way to bounce back from defeat at Sheffield United and keep our place in the top sixth.

Boro saved their best for Sunday SKY TV and defeated a team that had given us all sorts of problems when we met at the Riverside. This time it would be Blackburn that would have a man sent off but even before Ashley Fletcher was hauled down when in on goal Boro were ahead and comfortably so. We would go on to have 26 efforts on target. Goalkeeping heroics, the woodwork, last ditch defending heroics and occasional hesitant finishing prevented us getting that killer goal. Talking of heroics, Darren Randolph was on hand to make a flying save to deny Blackburn's one and only clear opportunity to equaliser, late doors.

Boro started with Ryan Shotton and George Friend filling in at centre back for the suspended Daniel Ayala and injured Aden Flint. Dael Fry slotted in alongside them in a three man backline. The three played superbly all match long. Even when George Friend had to limp off to be replaced by Paddy McNair, Shotton and Fry were commanding. Shotton worked so hard to keep Danny Graham from having a sniff but still found the energy to bound forward and propel his long throws goal-wards.

Boro were resting Jordan Hugill and finally giving Britt a league start and the centre forward provided a match winning and man of the match performance, although Jonny Howson and John Obi Mikel surely ran him close. But it would be the surprise inclusion of Ashley Fletcher that made such a difference to the Boro strikeforce. Fletcher was a thorn in Rovers side from the start and when he came in off the flank he posed a threat with a header saved by Rayas.

The big forward would go beyond his defenders from Dael Fry's through ball and although his strong shot was deflected Britt was on hand to react first and head over the line 1-0. And a 12th goal of the season for our no.9.

The second big moment of the first half happened just before the break. Fletcher got away before being brought down right on the edge of the box. The verdict was a red card for Williams and Blackburn now up against it down to ten men and 0-1 down through the second half.

Tony Mowbray brought on all three subs at half time as he attempted to re set the Blackburn performance. And the home team did create more in the second period, largely through the winger, no.17, Bell. whose cross was denied by a superb lunging interception from Shotton. Yet at the other end Boro mounted attack after attack and carved out chance after chance. Lewis Wing was so unlucky to crack a shot against the bar. Saville's shot was cleared off the line and Blackburn had no answer to Jonny Howson running beyond them down the right flank.

Boro old boy Danny Graham did blow a great chance in front of goal but on the day of a minute applause for Gordon Banks Darren Randolph got down superbly to stop Bradley Dack from scoring. Minutes later Rovers Rayas would pluck Britt's drive out of the air.

As time ticked by Mikel was in control, the Boro fans singing about as the African Zidane. It was a shame for Ashley Fletcher that he missed his big chance to crown his performance with a goal as he scuffed an effort from Mikel's pass.

Fletcher's replacement Downing struck a screamer that went just over the bar and put a shot round the post. But then deep- into the 3 minutes added on there was some last ditch defending and nerves as the Blackburn keeper went up for a corner. Many years ago in the last century I recall Brad Friedel heading home for Blackburn from an injury time corner. Thankfully history would not repeat as Darren Randolph bounced off his line to grasp the ball with both hands.

Full time 1-0 to Boro. A great win and Derby will now have to work hard to peg us back for that final play off place. It is a win that leap frogs us above Bristol City also and if we can bring our away form back home we can take them down a peg or two when we meet in the rearranged Riverside game, whenever that is.

We can all bask in a top performance and good win and hope we can surf on a wave of confidence to finally break our duck at the Riverside and record the first home League win of 2019 next week against Steve McClaren's QPR ma Lord.#

#UTB

Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Middlesbrough – scorer Britt





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