Boro Secure Vital Win
By Robert Nichols
Thursday 28 Nov 2019 09:17:00
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Boro finally clinched a victory last night holding out for a 1-0 win over bottom club Barnsley. In a match played in quite atrocious conditions it was a moment of calm and composure from Ashley Fletcher rounding the keeper to clinch the points. For the rest of the 90+ minutes it was a real battle against both the opposition and the weather to finally win our third game of the season. An oh so precious 3 points.

Boro started with Ashley Pears coming in for the injured Darren Randolph and Hayden Coulson replacing suspended Marvin Johnson. But in a match we simply had to win the driving rain and sodden conditions underfoot threatened to reduce the football to a farce. In fact if it had been played anywhere other than the superbly draining Riverside you suspect this game would probably not have made it to half time. Memories of Barnsley games from days gone by at Ayresome where the travelling Tykes donned white trainers to prevent falling on the icy skating rink pitch before that match was called off.

Barnsley, under new Austrian head coach, Gerhard Struber, attacked from the off, knowing that defeat would see them starting to be cut adrift at the bottom of the pile. There was some brave last ditch defending and players throwing themselves into the flight of the ball to prevent Barnsley threatening Ainsley Pears goal.

Britt Assombalonga seemed to have the mastery of the conditions, his strength and power across the sodden pitch put the visitors under all sorts of problems. He might have had even more success had the referee penalised defenders for almost ripping the shirt off his back. The message to officials is that it is not always 50/50 with Britt.

Hayden Coulson was initially struggling to come to terms with swimming pool like ponding down his flank. But when he did get through the lake he caused real problems with his speed and directness of play. Thankfully, Howson and Dijksteel found things slightly drier on the West Stand side of the pitch. But only slightly.

Sadly Boro's depleted ranks were further reduced when Dijksteel had to limp out of the action. It looked like he was maybe trodden on when the ball stopped dead in water when attempting to slide past an opponent. Replacement Marc Bola showed he could adapt to playing on the right and had a bright game for Boro in defence as well as attack.

Realising that ponding was causing the ball to stick in the middle of the park Boro went long, Ainsley Pears hitting over the top to Britt and former Barnsley loan forward Ashley Fletcher who along with Tav ran the Tykes ragged throughout.

With the second half Barnsley came at us again. The visitors even rattled the cross bar with an effort from the saturated left. Paddy McNair was struggling with a knock and Boro looked second best in midfield. After dogged, determined defending led by captain Ayala and Fry, Boro broke away. For the second time in as many games Ashley Fletcher showed a calmness in the box to sit a defender and keeper on the ground and calmly stroll around them both and pass the ball into the North Stand net. 1-0.

Now could we hold on to that lead?

The rain kept on coming down as did Barnsley keep on coming at us. Pears stood tall and Ayala and Fry beat everything away ably assisted by Coulson, Bolo and the outstanding Jonny Howson. Boro now had chances on the break. Britt blasted away and was unlucky to be blocked. Coulson sprinted clear and was only just denied by the keeper's leg. Tav was a real torment for the Tykes. Fletcher, hard to disposes.

McNair had to go off. Clayton came on, to some boos, and buckled down to a solid harrying of the terriers. If you want to boo your own player coming on then you might as well change ends to the away fans.

Lewis Wing gave us a heart stopping moment when he slipped in a challenge and appeared to go over the top. Thankfully it was a yellow. In saying that earlier on Fletcher was lucky to not get injured when a Tyke went in over the ball on him. The ref decided to overlook the foul completely.

Boro held out for the vital win, beating the conditions as well as Barnsley. The players, fans and management all clapped each other at the end of a quite appalling night's weather but an oh so precious 3 points. We bounced out of the bottom three up to 20th position. Now we must stay in the safety zone. Game on now for Boro to save this season.

Up The Boro

Middlesbrough 1-0 Barnsley – Ashley Fletcher



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