Boro Must Bounce Back v Preston
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 01 Oct 2019 18:28:00
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It is a massive night tonight for Jonathan Woodgate's Boro. We must show our mettle by responding in a positive manner from the first half thrashing to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. But if we had to pick opponents for the comeback game it might not have been Preston, flying high in 5th place and showing their own Houdini credentials in fighting to a draw after being in deep trouble at Deepdale, 2-0 down to Bristol City. Kick off tonight is 7.45pm.

It is a big, big game tonight as Jonathan Woodgate needs to show that he and his team have what it takes to dig deep and bounce back. Our defence was pulled every which way in the first half on Saturday. Garry Monk's tactics paid rich dividends as his team exploited our gaping gaps and vulnerabilities to crosses. The Owls were helped by a second successive early own goal.

We need to cut out the gifts tonight. That means defending corners in a disciplined manner. So, we should see Daniel Ayala coming back in as the team will surely look to build from a stronger backline.

Woodgate will surely be looking for the kind of performance that saw us draw away at Preston's recent opponents, Bristol City. That result came against a team flying high, unbeaten since the season opener with Leeds. We must do that all over again. This time at home to prove to our own fans that this is not to be a season haunted by the prospect of relegation.

We do need to keep our nerve. It is early in the season. But the warning signs from shipping four goals in the first quarter of a game have to be heeded immediately. If Wednesday had been a Leeds or a Swansea then we might have been looking at a total humiliation.

Preston were third until Saturday's draw but a mere 2 points off top spot, Alex Neill's side is building a serious promotion challenge. They are a really well run club. Living within their means. They have to sell a player or two every season, such as Jordan Hugill but they continue an upward progression. We have to put a spoke in those wheels tonight.

We need fireworks in front of goal from Britt and Fletcher. Assombalonga missed two sitters on Saturday, he needs to make Preston pay for those misses. In truth those misses would most likely have been little more than consolations, score tonight when it matters.

We have little in reserve but I thought Saturday's substitute Marcus Browne showed the first real glimpses of just why Jonathan Woodgate targeted him in the summer. Let's hope he is finding his feet and that he could provide an extra spark tonight and over the rest of the campaign.

So, we must tighten up and that means all over the park. Ensure there are no early gifts this time and punish Preston if and when we get an opportunity in front of goal.

Bounce Back Boro

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