The Draw That Feels Like a Defeat.
By Robert Nichols
Monday 25 Nov 2019 10:56:00
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Rampant Boro were pegged back by friendly fire when a red card on Marvin Johnson cost us dear and swung the pendulum in visitors Hull favour. Boro had gone up through a sublime Fletcher finished goal and were sitting pretty until Johnson's ill disciplined and unnecessary high challenge. The the tide changed and Boro were hanging on, backs to the wall, fans counting down the minutes on the big screen. High scoring Jarrod Bowen scored one then two but amazingly Boro didn't concede a third. Both sets of players looked dejected on the final whistle. Can Boro draw the positives and make that much needed victory on Wednesday v Barnsley?

With half an hour gone Boro were appeared in complete control against Hull City. A week of back to back home games against Yorkshire opposition suddenly looked to be golden opportunity to double our paltry two wins for the season. A week that could transform our fate from relegation haunted to survival planning. Tavernier had switched feet to place home after Paddy McNair looked to have run into a cul-de-sac before squirting over a cross. Marvin Johnson went close and Fletcher shot over as Boro made all the running. Then came the team goal of the season. Tremendous interplay between Fletcher and Britt was finished off by the former dancing around the keeper and slotting the ball into the unguarded net. Tremendous.

At that point in the game we were passing around and through Hull with real confidence. The two goal scorers looked head and shoulders above the players that started the game. Last game's two goal Britt was a real handful. Paddy McNair was driving through midfield and evergreen Jonny Howson pouring forward and combining so well with Dijksteel down the right.

All that changed when Johnson went in far too high and immediately saw red. He tried to protest that his challenge hadn't really hit home but in truth it was just as well it hadn't, kit was so out of control. Even though the Hull player did eventually bounce back off the floor it was a challenge that signalled a sea change in the game and handed the controls over to Hull.

Boro held out to half time but there was no doubting it would now be a very long afternoon indeed. Half time and still so early on a Sunday afternoon. Not an ideal time to kick off a weekend game, noon on a Sunday in a wintry weekend, these factors did not help the attendance. Officially over 18 000, actually well under 15 000.

Boro's goal was almost under seige in the second period. We brought on Adam Clayton at half time and persisted with Tav at left back did this invite more pressure or instead give us a terrier to snap at them in midfield? Whatever, we could do nothing to break the new momentum as it was all hands to the pumps with Hull flying at us down the flanks and over head. Randolph's handling was exemplary. Fry and Ayala over worked but not over wrought. Howson there to mop up off the line when all else failed.

I wonder if Hull would have actually got back into it without high scoring Jarrod Bowen? Where others floundered he was deadly. His two finishes were quite superbly struck. The first from about 25 yards lanced into the corner. The second only five minutes later finished with precision from close range. The only shock is that with fifteen minutes still remaining they didn't complete the job and take all the points.

Boro battled on and even had opportunities ourselves, trying to hit them hard on the break. Tav struck powerfully and low but at the keeper and both Britt and Ayala caused problems in their box. A Dijksteel breakaway was only curtailed by a professional foul. But we were still living on our nerves at the back.

The final whistle brought relief but disappointment. Johnson had let us down and but for a moment's madness we would surely have been on the way to a really precious and rare thing, 3 points. But looking around the pitch and it was the Hull players that lay down on the ground looking really dejected, they knew that they had 15 minutes left to take 2-2 to 3-2 and to some extent had let us off the hook. To some extent.

Another 2-2 draw but we did escape the bottom three. Just about. For a couple of days at least. Wednesday's game at home to Barnsley is vital now. Very much the first six pointer of the season. A win would make a big difference for us and deflate any new manager bounce for the Tykes. After Johnson's suspension (and with Saville still banned) we will have less players to pick from but everyone around the club needs a win now to quickly forget these lost points and push up the table.

Middlesbrough 2-2 Hull City – Tav, Fletcher

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