Oh What Fun It Is To See the Boro Win Away
By Rob Nichols
Monday 30 Dec 2019 13:01:00
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What an amazing performance and what a win. Boro saved it until the last game of the year to grab a first away victory of the season. We saved it until playing the league leaders. In front of a full house. Their Christmas showcase. Talk about spoiling the party but now everyone on Teesside is assured a happy New Year as the Boro battled to a brilliant 2-0 win away at The Hawthorns clinched by a real screamer from 30 yards out. We saved the best performance of the season until the big occasion and now we have real hope for 2020. Jonny Woodgate's Red and White Army is starting to get results.

Boro fans made another long trek down to the West Midlands hoping against hope we could perhaps bring back a point to keep our recent mini unbeaten run rolling forward into next year. We would be again without Britt and of course the final game without the suspended Paddy McNair. The only change from the Boxing Day win at home to Huddersfield was what initially appeared to be a defensive one with Johnson dropping out for Clayton.

We were soon to realise that the change wasn't actually defensive at all as the extra cover allowed Djed Spence to attack the home team from the start as a winger. The Baggies didn't know what had hit them as Boro piled forward. Spence down one flank and Coulson coming from deep but sprinting beyond in front of the away corner. Spence even making occasional sorties down the other side.

More centrally Lewis Wing was powering forward in the McNair position whilst Tav buzzed around, snapping at heels and zapping the ball towards Fletcher who was motoring with that gliding action, constantly turning his markers and opening up new pockets of space. Saville and Clayton gave backing and industry and along with Howson ensured the ball kept going forward but with speed and precision.

Lewis Wing squandered a couple of corners before finding his mark but when he hit the spot it was priceless. Daniel Ayala soared high to plant a header in the back of the net. Goooallllll! Right in front of the away fans and how we enjoyed the celebrations. What an unexpected bonus but could we now keep it going.

Early on Boro continued to dominate. Tav hit the top of the cross bar from a cross shot. Saville picked up a rebound and threaded a shot through the defence only to see it cleared as the keeper threw out a leg on the goal line.

Of course it wasn't all one way. But Pears was in impressive form if anything should pass by the powerhouse trio of Ayala, Fry and Howson. But Boro continued to hold the momentum and Albion struggled to get up a head of steam. Only one team deserved to be in front at half time.

Boro fans were all smiles at the break. This was unfamiliar territory for us on the road. In fact I would say this was easily the best we had played away since Luton back in August. And in all, in the circumstances this had to be the best 45 minutes from Boro seen under Jonathan Woodgate.

The second half was always going to be more of a battle. The league leaders were never going to tamely surrender in their big festive match. Slaven Bilic made changes at half time and the Baggies responded by attacking. I can tell you that there were plenty of heart in mouth moments for us as the striped shirts pounded towards the away end. Yet we always looked sharp and dangerous on the break. Hayden Coulson charged upfield and was only stopped by a professional foul.

There was end to end action as Pears produced a wonderful cat like reaction to claw the ball off the goal line. We zapped straight to the other end where Fletcher was denied by a superb save down at the base of the post.

Baggies sub Charlie Austin did not exactly enamour himself to the away fans by his cynical challenge on Saville. Yellow Card. Then attempting to push and intimidate Pears, who stood his ground and gave plenty back. Boro fans joined in and chanted about his … err... crap hair. There can be little argument about that.

The clock on the big screen was taking its time to tick round yet Boro were still defending for their lives. Wing took it round their keeper who saved his team by finger tipping over Tav's shot.

Five minutes added on. That could seem like a lifetime. But we continued to stand firm. “We can see you sneaking out.” They were giving up in the stands. Only a couple of minutes left, the ball bounced ahead of Fletcher. Swing. A real rocket, soaring and roaring up and over the keeper and into the back of the net. It must be 30 yards at least. What – a – goal – getttt - in- therreeee!!

Fletcher and the other players race the length of the field to slide on their knees in front of the ecstatic Boro fans. What a moment. What a moment!!

The final whistle and all the players come over and everyone is fist pumping and celebrating together. Woodgate applauds and does Southgate style punching the air. Aynsley Pears is one of our own. Daniel – Daniel Ayala – he claps back. Leo- Leo - clenched fists, banging his heart, the passion, the passion. We are one. We R Middlesbrough.

Happy New Year


West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Middlesbrough – Ayala, Fletcher



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