Boro over Cliff Edge
By Robert Nichols
Thursday 04 Apr 2019 12:19:00
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As the game ebbed away on Tuesday night the half empty stands echoed to choruses of boos and Pulis Out. Once again a match that had seemed firmly in our grasp had slipped far, far away and fans vented their frustrations as their team froze in the floodlights with time ticking away. Is time calling now for Tony Pulis? After five successive defeats, four of them at home is there anyway back for the veteran coach? Is there anyway back for Boro's play off hopes?

It is amazing really how many of these defeats are near mirror images. Take out the Villa defeat, where we were well and truly hammered we probably should have won three of the four, even all four if our early finishing had been sharper versus Brentford. It is incredible that we have not been able to stop this rot. And all the while it has taken a stronger and stronger hold.

Tony Pulis carries a lot of baggage with him. His football has often been criticised as anti-football yet his record stands up against nearly all. Fans became sick of him at Stoke and West Brom but where are those clubs now? And how much of the infrastructure they are now relying on to take them back to the top flight was set up by the man in the cap?

Last night again we should have been well ahead with Downing celebrating his contractual waiver to start games by tearing Bristol City apart down the left. But once again we hit woodwork and defenders on the line before criminally leaving a player unmarked at a corner to go behind.

There should have been plenty of time to strike back but as the game moved on and the clock counted down we tensed up and pulled or missed our big punches.

Britt looked like a man possessed as he raced out of the traps for the second half but he was almost trying too hard as his shots struck defenders, often when he should have steadied himself to find a fellow forward. At the end he looked distraught and had to be comforted and consoled by captain George Friend. Was he shouldering much of the responsibility as centre forward. He shouldn't do. What on earth has happened to double figure scorers Aden Flint and George Saville this season. And you could work your way through the side, Jonny Howson tried gamefully, launching at the opponents particularly as a second half flying wingback but he too used to be semi prolific in a former life at former clubs.

Of course we should not ignore the one player that is performing out of his skin every week is Darren Randolph. For all our dominance on Tuesday night without his goalline miracles we could have been even further behind. Is it just me and my mate Stuart or do other season fans not think he has much of the Stephen Pears about him, a tremendous goal line keeper who at times is all but impossible to beat in a one on one with forwards?

There aren't many positives to be had these days as a Boro fan. It was torture watching the closing quarter of the match as the crowd's frustration started to boil over and players began to freeze out on the pitch. The final two substitutions did nothing to help the situation. While everyone would probably agree with Wing for Shotton being a welcome positive, forward looking change, Hugill and Besic added little. Besic's best contribution was racing up the line and giving a towel to Bristol City for a throw in.

The crowd would obviously have liked to see Tav, I wonder whether Pulis is trying to shelter the youngster from the full heat of the situation. If so it could be very much to his own cost. A fact he will be well aware of.

So, a sorry finale to a terrible spell that has seen our apparently nailed on play off finish fall off a cliff edge. There doesn't appear to be any way back right now and all we can hope for is to salvage some pride away at Swansea and Bolton. Not really the perfect scenario for selling season card renewals. Talking of Bolton, the only slither of silver lining I can think of is to say be thankful that at least we are not Wanderers fans. If we are talking of cliff edges then they are staring into the abyss right now.

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