Boro Pegged Back by Late Rams Raid
By Rob Nichols
Monday 13 Jan 2020 09:49:00
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The Boro players were applauded off the field at half time on Saturday after serving up a master class that was right out of Derby player-coach Wayne Rooney's school of excellence. A superb move was capped by a glorious Lewis Wing drive but Boro were ultimately to pay for missed chances when a wind-assisted equaliser found the net and then McNair's penalty was cancelled out very late doors by a last minute equaliser of superb technique from Holmes. A month ago Boro fans would have gone home in despair such is the Riverside revival that although disappointed at the result we were still delighted by the football.

Jonathan Woodgate was given Manager of the Month last week, a measure of the job he has done here and a reward for patience. Patience that he did call for when he embarked on the job last summer. It took time for his methods to take root and took time for vital players like Hayden Coulson and Djed Spence to find their fitness and make the step up.

Boro looked full of confidence on Saturday. Wing almost scored from a corner in the opening seconds, glancing a header just wide of the post. Then Djed Spence had the nerve to rob Wayne Rooney. That set the tone as Boro's pressing game left the visitors out in the cold and Rooney stranded deep in midfield. Our quick fire breaks had Derby reeling. Spence firing down one flank, Coulson down the other and new loan signing Patrick Roberts a busy bee buzzing all around the park. To continue the animal comparisons he was like a terrier with a ball only he did know when to pass to team mates.

Roberts was involved with the opening goal, a sweeping move which ended with Roberts finding Tav who flicked it into the path of Lewis Wing who steadied himself before burying the ball into the corner. Boro should have made it 2-0 when Roberts failed to finish from Fletcher's dart and pass across the box.

Although we were well on top Foghorn Waghorn delayed and squandered a golden opportunity as Pears closed him down.

Boro were playing such lovely football that had the crowd purring. Only frequent cynical and late fouls, particularly on Coulson and Spence prevented us inflicting further damage as we had Derby all at sea. No wonder the Boro fans applauded their team off at the break.

Derby had to find more answers in the second half and they did this by pushing Rooney into an advanced position and in general trying to take the game to us. Even so the equaliser owed so much to fortune and the wind, a gust taking a centre and turning it into a shot that screamed over Pears and into the top corner. There was nothing the keeper could have done about it, an act of nature on an extremely windy day.

But Boro did not let this ruin the day. The outstanding Roberts scurried forward at pace, his jinking run ended by him being upended in the box. Paddy McNair buried the penalty. 2-1 again.

Boro created further opportunities to finish the match before Derby produced a late, late flourish. But it still took a phenomenal piece of technique from the promising Duane Holmes, his shot was low and ramrod straight into the corner of the net, threading the eye of the needle.

Disappointing at the end but not during the course of the match. Derby rode their luck for so much of the game as Boro served up the kind of football that should draw the crowd back week by week to the Riverside. With a top cup replay on Tuesday at Spurs, there are many reasons to feel optimistic for 2020 for Boro fans.

Middlesbrough 2-2 Derby – Wing, McNair

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