Randolph To The Rescue in Boro Royal Victory
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 15 Sep 2019 11:34:00
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Middlesbrough took a priceless three points yesterday with a hard fought win over Reading, a rare Marvin Johnson free kick goal proving all-important. It was the 500th League game at the Riverside, a landmark stat that Boro marked with gifts to a few randomly selected Gold Card holders. Yet few of those long serving fans will have seen a goalkeeping display to match that of Darren Randolph whose amazing reflex saves ensured that Boro thwarted the Royals as they came on strong in search of a late equaliser.

Mind you, after all his heroics, Darren Randolph would have to hold his hands up and applaud the catch by Leo Percovich in front of the away dug out in the second half. Once a goalkeeper always a goalkeeper.

The Reading goalkeeper, Cabral. was the one custodian missing from the party he drop kicked several water bottles and even crucified himself in the net after letting Marvin Johnson's free kick cross evade him and go in direct. That would prove to be the crucial goal that separated the teams. Britt had earlier had the ball in the net but the assistant flagged Dael Fry offside as he centred from Lewis Wing's free kick.

Talking of Dael Fry, the young centre back made a string of superb interceptions to prevent Reading forwards pulling the trigger from dangerous positions. Alongside him Ryan Shotton looks more at home every game in the central position. But he almost set up a second when flying forward down his old right flank channel and setting up Marvin Johnson whose shot was tipped around the post by a flying save.

Boro's young full backs Bola and Dijksteel continue to settle in offering weight going forward and showing their defensive prowess. Boro could and should have finished this game but on several occasions were guilty of making the wrong decision with the goal gaping. Wing, McNair as well as Britt and Fletcher were guilty of looking to shoot when team mates were in better positions. Yet you cannot be too harsh on players for wanting to grasp the responsibility and shoot for goal.

Boro were almost made to rue missing early opportunities in the first quarter of the game as we peppered the Reading goal without quite making the vital connection in the box. Paddy McNair carried on the international prowess he showed for Northern Ireland v Germany by driving at the opposition. He combined really effectively with Marvin Johnson down the right with Dijksteel also pushing on along that wing.

A strong start to the second period was rewarded with that vital Boro goal. Yet as we failed to get the match clinching second Reading threw on the forward reinforcements to rescue some points. Boro responded with Ayala and then Saville to strengthen our defences but it was left to Randolph's astonishing goal line heroics to claw away shot after header after shot. The Irish number one flung himself from side to side in a display that was reminiscent of a goalkeeping display from well before those 500 Riverside League games, the day that Stephen Pears held Leicester City at bay at Ayresome Park and earned an ovation from all fans and players alike at the final whistle.

Randolph was applauded off by all 19 000 Boro fans yesterday and rightly so. The team could take a bow also, after clinching 3 hard fought but quite vital points. It is four games unbeaten now and Jonathan Woodgate's team is starting to find its feet. Up to 13th in the table and looking far more resilient. Again a rare North Stand, and so second half, goal at home. All positive signs and small steps to progress.

Up The Boro

Middlesbrough 1-0 Reading (scorer - Marvin Johnson)




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