Can Boro Out Trick the Tricky Trees?
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 10 Dec 2019 10:41:00
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Boro travel to play Nottingham Forest at the City Ground tonight hoping to build on that morale-boosting victory over Charlton at the weekend. A couple of major players could be back in the mix, Marvin Johnson and Paddy McNair are both back from suspension but there are continued doubts over Lewis Wing and fingers crossed over scan results on in form no.9 Britt Assombalonga. Kick off is at 7.45pm.

Britt Assombalonga's might not get the chance to return to his former City Ground stamping ground after being cut down by that ugly, cynical challenge from Darren Pratley at the weekend. You worry he could be out for some time after the experienced Pratley chopped him from behind and raked down Britt's achilles.

That will be a big blow for Boro as Britt has been so vital as a spearhead that he has even been starting games when not 100% fit. His partnership with Ashley Fletcher is really bearing fruit. Work on the training ground under the guidance of former sharp shooter Robbie Keane is really reaping rewards for the now dynamic duo.

Stephen Walker could come in for his first start and will have learned lessons from Saturday's game. As a centre forward he wants to assert himself and score but Walker needs to quickly build a partnership and trust with Fletcher and the other players around him.

Tyrone O'Neil is another possibility to be given the centre forward role. He has seen first team action just once since being recalled from Darlington and acquitted himself pretty well in the closing minutes at Elland Road. The match will come far too soon for Rudy Gestede to leap into the frame, having only just got minutes in his legs last night at Aston Villa for the Under 23s.

In contrast to Boro, Forest should see an experienced striker return in Lewis Grabban. The former Norwich man scored twice after coming on from the bench in Friday's 2-2 draw at Millwall.

Boro always find the City Ground a difficult place to play. A quick scan of the record books shows we have only twice in the last 22 attempts by the Trent. Everyone will have their own bad memories of defeats and occasional draws in front of the Brian Clough Stand.

Last season we were humbled 3-0 in a pretty devastating defeat that seemed at the time to have killed off any lingering hopes of a play off finish. That comprehensive defeat meant Forest completed the double over us. They have beaten us four times out of the last five. Probably under a different manager every time.

Forest like to change their managers, usually not even giving them a full season before binning them off for a complete change of plan. But this year they have been a surprise package, sitting in a play off place on 33 points. Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis selection of former French international and Rennes manager, Sabri Lamouchi seems to be working well. The Tricky Trees are proving hard to beat on their home patch where they keep games tight, rather than blazing home the goals. Mind you, after suffering a defeat to Neil Harris Cardiff and draw against Millwall, we could stretch their win-less run to 3 games and make this into a mini wobble for Forest. Can Boro plant a seed of doubt for Forest.

It will not be easy for a team that has still to win away under Jonathan Woodgate. But if we put Leeds to one side on Saturday then we need to tune into the away performance before, the draw at QPR, for a template of how to approach and deliver tonight.

Aitor Karanka defied history with an exceptionally rare result at Forest, if Woodgate can even bring back a point it will be a precious point in the right direction for the Boro reds.

Come On Boro



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