Boro Crash to Canaries
By Robert Nichols
Sunday 31 Mar 2019 11:08:00
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Boro crashed to a disastrous fourth successive defeat and third straight home loss with a 1-0 defeat at home to league leaders, Norwich. Yet it could all have been so different had Daniel Ayala buried his header instead of hitting a post or Ashley Fletcher and Jonny Howson have cleared the danger to prevent the Norwich winner. Now Boro have it all to do to stem the tide of defeats in the home game against bang in form Bristol City on Tuesday night.

On the day Boro were celebrating local attractions, in the renamed for the day, Captain James Cook Stadium, it was the visitors that took away all the good memories from their visit to the banks of the Tees. Norwich's 1-0 win allowed them to leapfrog back over Leeds United to top the league again. Boro fans meanwhile, trudged wearily out of the stadium into a Saturday night filled with foreboding and crushed hopes. Norwich were the better side but even so Boro had opportunities and passages of play where we were on top. Once again Tony Pulis was left to rue missed chances. An all too familiar story in what is threatening to be a hugely disappointing campaign.

Norwich seemed to come from nowhere this season. In fact it was their victory over us at Carrow Road that kick started a charge that has seen them take the league by the scruff of the neck and rival and even edge out Leeds United every step of the way. So, having lost to Brentford, Preston and been crushed at Villa it was always going to be a tall order to bounce back against the Canaries. Yet hope springs eternal and a televised tea time win could have been just the springboard to fuel Boro into a late stampede to the play offs.

Adam Clayton was drafted in for the injured Lewis Wing, with Boro reverting to three centre backs but a dual strike partnership of Britt and Fletcher. Clayton, playing more in the role he once revelled in at Huddersfield intercepted the ball higher up the pitch and helped Boro take the game to the visitors early on. There were promising beginnings to moves. Strong runs from Britt and quick feet and turns from Fletcher but the finishing was never going to threaten Tim Kruhl. In fact it was Darren Randolph that produced two brilliant reflex saves to keep Norwich from the taking a first half lead.

It was in the second half that Ryan Shotton's long throw found the head of Ayala, he was free and really should have found the net rather than the outside of the post. Minutes later Boro were made to pay as Fletcher scuffed a clearance and Howson dallied, even so the finish down to Randolph's left was of real quality.

There was still plenty of time to get back on equal terms. Downing came on and soon slotted in as play maker. In a late siege of the Canaries goal, the former England winger saw his header hooked away from the line. Mikel couldn't find a way through for his shot and final sub, Jordan Hugill fluffed his back post header when the goal appeared to be gaping.

Now Boro must somehow find goals and points against Sheff United's conquerors, Bristol City on Tuesday night. The storm clouds are massing over Tony Pulis Boro. Whether it be the Captain James Cook or the Riverside the mood is not good. The pressure is certainly on.

Middlesbrough 0-1 Norwich City



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