Boro Own Goal Misery at Cardiff
By Robert Nichols
Monday 23 Sep 2019 12:38:00
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Ashley Fletcher's early own goal was the all important action in this drab league defeat in Wales. Although Boro did create plenty of openings in the first half it was the Bluebirds that had us panicking when they struck forward. After the break Boro tried to bring on increased forward options in Wing, Browne and Tav but the old warhorse Neil Warnock tightened his lines and shut us out, for what in the end was a comfortable home win for Cardiff City.

Wales is not exactly a happy hunting ground for Boro these days. It wasn't for the memory of our League Cup triumph at Millennium then our regular defeats to Cardiff, not to mention empty returns from Swansea or the giant killing at Newport would mean South Wales was a constant nightmare destination for Boro fans. In the event there were 600 making the long, near 300 mile trek. Unfortunately we had to endure yet another 1-0 defeat, the trademark losing margin for us when taking on Warnock's Cardiff. Mind you the crucial goal was anything but same old.. same old.

Jonathan Woodgate made changes, probably to counteract the physical nature of a Warnock side. Was Bola injured when he came off against Reading? Or was that and the inclusion of Marvin Johnson as left wing back tactical? Whatever the reasoning we were pretty vulnerable down that flank as Shotton desperately covered across, while the recalled Ayala and Fry tried to hold the fort in the centre. Dijksteel gamely kicked on down the right as Saville provided an extra layer of protection ahead of Clayton.

In the event whatever the plan, it went pretty much out of the window and into Cardiff Bay as Ashley Fletcher intercepted a Cardiff corner at the near post and headed it with power and unintended precision into the corner of his own net.

Bad start. And Cardiff continued to rock us down the flanks. Murphy getting in behind Dijksteel down the right and forwards bypassing Johnson on the other side.

Gradually Boro settled and took the game to the home side. Britt was a handful and Ashley Fletcher tried to put his own goal behind him as he evaded his markers with quick, early movement. Dijksteel was the one player to test the Cardiff keeper, Smithies but it was hard work to get past their giant-sized back line.

Boro fans became impatient at our failing short corners but when we did take them long, Flint and Morrison were there to head away. In truth we created little else. Perhaps the one moment we put a move together of note saw Saville shoot over. The midfielder also squared a pass into the centre for Britt but the forward failed to get a shot off.

There is no disguising that it was a drab and disappointing affair. True, Boro had not been bullied as has often happened before at Cardiff and against Warnock. Yet we hadn't created, threatened or converted. It was with a weary shrug of the shoulders that we exited the stadium. Even the sun had almost given up the ghost and we waited a long time for the traffic to clear before striking out on the long road back home.

Another fruitless, toothless trip to the Welsh capital. In the light of so many others being so similar and instantly forgettable it probably says very little about our season prospects. But we have meekly surrendered our four game unbeaten run. We better get right back on the case again against Sheff Wed next weekend and try to win back friends and influence people that we can mount a sustained campaign into the top half of the table.

Cardiff City 0-1 Middlesbrough

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