Young Boro Defeat the Addicks
By Robert Nichols
Sunday 08 Dec 2019 12:08:00
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Youth and experience proved a winning blend for Jonathan Woodgate's Boro after scoring early against Charlton. Boro reacted to defeat at Leeds by copying the table topping side in getting the upper hand almost from kick off. From the first minute goal onwards Boro were in control, played some great flowing and one touch football and should have had the game rapped up long before the 4 minutes added on were over.

George Saville's first minute goal now leaves clear daylight between Boro and the bottom three and has taken the gap down to just three points with a Charlton side dropping like a lead weight. It lifts so much of the pressure and scatters the storm clouds that were massing after the 4-0 humbling from Yorkshire rivals Leeds. Yorkshire rivals if you were born this side of the River Tees. Whichever side of the water you are from you would have been on the side of young wing backs Djed Spence and Hayden Coulson who ran riot down the flanks. What a debut from young Djed, taking on full backs and sprinting past, or showing strength in spinning out of their grasp. Absolutely outstanding.

Experience oozed from George Saville and Adam Clayton who held court in the middle of the pitch. Ashley Fletcher never stopped running topside and behind him Tav enjoyed a starring free role that should have been capped by at least one goal.

Britt was supposed to be less than 100% but for the umpteenth time this season he pounced on uncertainty in the opposition's defence. Although his effort was thwarted, Fletcher was on the keeper in an instant and worked the ball clear to where George Saville could follow in and score. Saville would shoot fractionally wide later in the first half, underlining the shooting credentials that brought him from Millwall in the first place.

An actual 14-15 000 crowd arrived with some trepidation to see a Boro side without the suspended Johnson and McNair and decimated by injuries, many long term. The bench was incredibly young, stuffed full of academy players. Talking of which the full back berths were given to two youngsters that really stood out with their speedster runs in pre season. Spence and Coulson were thorns in Charlton's sides from the off. As well as their pace they both provided pinpoint centres, again and again, a real contrast to the visitors who were woefully off target with long passing and attempted crosses.

Boro fans enjoyed watching some lovely moves, finished with one touch combinations that out-foxed and unlocked the Addicks. The only thing lacking was that killer second goal.

I am convinced we would have added more to the one goal lead had Britt stayed on the field. He was stopped in his tracks by the most cynical of fouls, a real rake down the achilles that left him reeling before having to limp out of the action. A shameful tackle to be honest. Hopefully it will not cost the number nine too many games on the sidelines.

Tav ought to have buried Spence's superb cross instead of blazing over from 5 yards into the North Stand. Sub Stephen Walker should have looked up and squared to Tav when the goal was at his mercy. Only a great save stopped Fletcher capping a rapier like raid with a net busting goal. Walker could then have added a second and his first ever when he had time and space.

There were nerves towards the end but Pears was brave and strong when coming for the high ball and his reactions were good when he got down low to save beneath his post stopping a shot that came between lots of legs. Ayala and Fry were strong and commanding. In fact, everyone chipped in to prevent any possible Addick's comeback.

Boro were good value for what has to be a big, big three oints. It was an entertaining performance. A real team effort, even the injured/suspended George Friend and Paddy McNair helping encourage Djed Spence from down beneath the East Stand. There is a togetherness that you just don't see in teams falling into a relegation spiral. With two difficult away games to come this week we may need all those four points buffer but we will also have take much confidence into Tuesday's match at Forest. We are now building something good at home and it will be home wins that will leave us above the relegation three.

People were talking about this being their lowest ebb for the Boro but out of darkness comes the light as well as entertainment from Spence and Coulson. The youngsters showed the way forward in harrying the opposition all over the pitch. In terms of work rate as well as entertainment this was just the kind of game that will surely get those missing season card holders back into their seats again. This winning blend of youth and experience captured everyone's imagination on Saturday. Woodgate's Boro have rediscovered the winning way at the Riverside and long may it continue.

Middlesbrough 1-0 Charlton Athletic – scorer George Saville

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