Mowbray Escapes With a Point at Boro
By Robert Nichols
Monday 03 Feb 2020 11:35:00
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It finished honours even between Boro and Blackburn but in an end to end game Boro might so easily have taken full points in a pulsating finish. It should have come as no surprise for a Woodgate v Mowbray contest to be all about attacking flair. Yet after creating numerous openings in the first half the visitors took a lead against the run of play in the second. It was a special goal cancelled out by Coulson's first ever Boro finish as Woodgate's subs Coulson and Gestede turned the tide and almost took maximum points for Boro. But once again we had to settle for a win-less result.

It was a first ever return for Stewart Downing playing in opposition at the Riverside. The 35 year old now playing in the centre for Blackburn received an ovation from the Boro fans at the start of the game and after his second half substitution. Stewy's experience and passing skills have helped prompt Rovers to tenth in the league. Having recently knocked the wheels off Sheff Wed charge and hit them for FIVE Mowbray's team are poised for their own play off push. Tony Mowbray was of course applauded with his own heroes ovation. As a player, captain courageous and then manager he will forever be a legendary figure in the history of Middlesbrough FC.

Boro started with Marvin Johnson pressing forward down the left flank, chosen ahead of Hayden Coulson who would later come on off the bench. Lewis Wing was pulling many of the strings from deep in midfield and the former Shildon man drilled a low free kick under the wall that came perilously close to beating the keeper at his near post. Johnson would later cut in field and test the Rovers keeper. Paddy McNair sent a cross shot that threatened the woodwork.

Yet it was not all one way traffic. Boro moving forward left room for the visitors to exploit. Mowbray always likes to play big fellas wide and Sam Gallagher proved a real thorn in our side getting behind Johnson and running at Dael Fry at pace. Boro were stretched many times and only brave last ditch defending kept Rovers at bay.

It was a surprise to see Fry playing after going down with a hamstring injury last home match. I wonder how long it will be before we either see a returning Shotton or new signing Harold Moukoudi playing alongside him to release McNair and or Howson back into midfield again.

It would be Howson that went inches wide at when cutting in from right and shooting inches wide when cutting in from the right.

Boro were really pressing on at the start of the second period and the ever alert Tav was thwarted by a good stop from Rovers keeper, Walton. So, it was a real bolt out of the blue when Travis ran from deep, took a one two on the edge of the box and carved his way through our defence to pass into the corner of the net. What a shock to the system.

Woodgate responded by throwing on Britt Assombalonga. Great to see Britt back again. He looked fit but understandably not yet match-sharp. Coulson then came on for Saville as Boro

Coulson comes on and tucks away rebound after smart combination between Wing and Nmecha keeper can only push out Wing shot straight to in rushing Coulson took to the wings to open up the opposition. And how that worked. A great bit of play between Nmecha and Wing was followed by a rasping shot from Wing, Walton could only push it out and Coulson was following in to snap up the chance. 1-1 and a first ever Boro goal for a delighted Hayden Coulson.

There was still plenty of time for Boro Rovers but no one could quite get on the end of his cross. The ball was recycled but Britt couldn't quite get his bicycle kick on target. The centre forward would also head wide of the mark before Boro further bolstered the attack bringing on Rudy Gestede.

Boro were a real threat in these last ten minutes (including injury time). With Gestede, Britt and Fletcher piling into the box Blackburn were holding on. Britt was too rusty to respond to Gestede's knock down. A superb reflex stop from Walton denied Gestede a headed goal. Then the big man just failed to head the ball on target at the back post.

At the end it was points shared. Boro dropped a place down the table to 18th as they recorded another game without a win. But I think the fans of both teams will have felt entertained. With Britt poised to return again and defensive reinforcements brought in we could have a reshaped side for the game against in-form Brentford next weekend. We will need to be more lethal in front of goal against The Bees.

Middlesbrough 1-1 Blackburn - Coulson

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