Boro Bounce Back with Draw at QPR
By Robert Nichols
Monday 11 Nov 2019 11:48:00
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We travelled down to London really up against it, third from bottom, four games without a goal, no wins away from home and an injury, suspension and sick list almost longer than the team list itself. It started raining just before kick off and the temperatures dropped, would we be put in deep freeze in the relegation zone from another away drubbing?

No. Boro fought back against Rangers, scored goals and played football that deserved the reward of 3 points and not just one. Yes, going into the international break it could just be the start of something, a fight back against relegation that players and fans alike could get stuck into.

The good news filtered through just before kick off as both Ainsley Pears and Darren Randolph appeared on the pitch to enthusiastic applause from the few Boro fans making their way early into the School End of QPR's renamed  Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. What a boost and things would get even better when leading the outfield players out for a kick about was club captain George Friend, wow we did not expect that at all. Also in the ranks Ashley Fletcher and even Ben Liddle back from illness. Suddenly reading out a long list on Wednesday seemed a great piece of mind games by Jonathan Woodgate.

What a difference having George Friend back at left back. A steadying influence playing wise and talking and organising. Paddy McNair was able to push up into midfield. Marvin Johnson able to attack and behind them all, the best keeper in the league had returned between the posts.

But before the match report I must praise QPR for the renaming of Loftus Road in honour of a promising young teenage talent who was murdered when trying to intervene and prevent bullying in 2006; Kiyan Prince RIP. Kiyan Prince Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to using Kiyan's legacy to combat knife crime and other forms of youth violence. The remaning came as the result of fans vote in June of this year.

Yet, how many thought it was a sign of the times when Ayala's early header was ruled out by the officials. He rose high and unopposed to plant a deep free kick into the back of the net. The goal-starved Boro fans rose as one to celebrate, only for it to be cruelly taken away from us. Add that to Britt's early miss at Derby and you suddenly worry that the world is turning against you and your team.

Yet Boro continued to press, hustle and harry the home team. We were making all the running, winning corners, posing problems, playing good football. The darting, free-running Tav ought to have got more on a header to cap off an end to end move. Wing was spraying the passes. Johnson and Howson/McNair pushing on down the flanks. And then came that magical moment, Howson free on the right, a superb cross and Britt stooped and conquered, launching himself low to the ground to head past the keeper and into the net. GOAL.

QPR 2-2

This time the goal stood and what a feeling. Sadly it was taken away all too soon when Nahki Wells stole in behind our defence to fire past Randolph with us vainly appealing for offside. Gutting. Sucker punch.

But Boro got back on the horse again and continued to play football and pressurise the QPR midfield and defence. We would have settled for that scoreline at half time, that was right up until a sickening blow right down beneath the away fans on half time. Ayala was unable to block a header which Randolph would have saved if it had not struck Howson and diverted away into the net. An unfortunate own goal. Ayala hung his head. Howson and Randolph had been powerless. Randolph had earlier sprung to a marvellous reflex save when the defence was breached. Once more Boro players claiming for offside but more likely QPR had worked a way of getting behind us.

So, half time then and unlucky as it might be we were still 2-1 down. Boro fans stayed with it though and were right behind the team. And it was a big contingent in the Upper School End and plenty downstairs as well. The backing to the players rather than barracking definitely seemed to help the fight back, especially as our team was now kicking towards our goal.

The equaliser when it finally came was a reward for all the high pressing. Time and again Fletcher and Britt almost intercepted unnecessary square passes around the QPR box. It seems a disease of this season, our centre forward could easily have profited at Pride Park with more composure. He was not lacking any composure this time, latching onto an under-hit effort and lifting over the keeper and into the net for a delightful finish. Gettinthere!!

A brace for Britt. Back in business. Looking the business. A confident Britt in the goals charts makes so much difference for the other players and indeed the fans. Like his short hair cut he looked razor sharp. Alongside him Ashley Fletcher was full of strong running, chopped down four or five times when sprinting away and drawing a flurry of yellow cards. He was just unable to get on the end of a cross in a scramble below our seats.

QPR had two or three close range efforts thwarted by the brilliance of Randolph. This is in no way a smear of Pears undoubted abilities but great to have the best keeper in the league back in goal. There was action at both ends as both teams looked to convert one to three precious points. Jordan Hugill appeared as sub and it would have been so typical had he tucked his header inside rather than outside the post. But I don't think Boro would have deserved that. We were the better side, the footballing side, the team pressing and snapping on the opposition's heels all afternoon. The performance was epitomised by captain George Friend who was so strong throughout. Great to have him back.

At the end of the game Jonathan Woodgate and his coaches joined the Boro players in applauding the travelling fans. We had all pulled together in this game and shown the strength in unity. With Luton dropping 3 points this became a big point in the right direction. A draw away at QPR, Britt's two goals, as well as Friend and Randolph's effective returns meant there were many reasons for cheer as we applauded. And we certainly did. Outside we spilled into the rain and faced up to the trip north through that rain. Just like the journey back to Teesside it is going to be a long, difficult road back to safety. Yet we have started something and together we can finish it.

Come On Boro and Up The Boro

QPR 2-2 Middlesbrough – Britt (2)

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