Boro Fall To Leeds and Crisis Looms
By Robert Nichols
Thursday 27 Feb 2020 12:08:00
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A goal right on half time was enough to defeat Boro last night in a combative game at the Riverside. It would have made compulsive viewing if there had not been so much at stake. With Wigan and Barnsley both winning and Luton the night before Boro are tottering on the brink of the relegation places, holding on by the fingertips and goal difference. Torrid times.

Storm clouds are gathering over the Riverside. On a freezing cold night Boro plunged to the brink of the relegation zone and although we toiled far harder and more purposefully of late we once again failed to really trouble the opposition keeper. With top scorer Ashley Fletcher limping off late on there is another reason for thinking the goal drought might continue.

This terrible run continues and although we gave promotion pushing Leeds a real run for their money it was a period right before half time that proved crucial. George Friend made the initial mistake on the half way line and Leeds burst through into our half. The first shot came back off the post and as Boro scrambled to clear the rebound, a cool head angled the ball firmly and squarely past Pears into the corner of the net.

That was in first half injury time. Aynsley Pears made outstanding saves in either half. Ryan Shotton executed superb last ditch tackles on four or five occasions as Leeds tried to turn the screw. Patrick Bamford, backed for once by the big away contingent, raised a smile from home fans when he missed a sitter heading into Pears arms.

For Boro, Howson prompted many charges forward, which largely broke down long before the edge of their area. Coulson was our most dangerous forward, having the beating of his markers and whipping in dangerous centres from wide left. Tav scurried around, perpetual movement but too often blunting attacks through weak passes. It was to be Coulson's persistence and then Tav's movement that set up our best chance as Tavernier hit the top of the bar with a really good effort from Coulson's strongarm run.

Adam Clayton tried to lead some urgency in the second half but there was little end product apart from Saville's long distance shot that was tipped over the bar. Lewis Wing had failed to hit the target with one of our clearest openings mid way through the first half. The attacking midfielder sparked late hopes when he spotted a free kick following a foul on the ever energetic Coulson. Sadly his free kick was part blocked by the wall and though Tav's follow up was dangerously deflected it did not have enough steam on it to trouble the keeper.

It was a sad night that became sadder still with news of Barnsley and Wigan continual revival. We could well be in the bottom three on Monday when playing Forest. That won't feel at all good and will add to the mounting pressures. Right now it all feels a bit unreal, just how quickly the bottom seems to have so fallen out of Boro-world. The crisis is deepening and we are going to need to dig so deeply to climb out of it. We need eleven Coulsons and Howsons out there on the pitch. Every game. It is such a big ask but the alternative is damnation to the third tier. It is looking like a cruel winter.

Middlesbrough 0-1 Leeds United

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