Late Heartbreak But Boro Show Bottle
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 03 Mar 2020 10:02:00
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A late Forest equaliser was a heart breaker for a Boro side showing so much spirit, attitude and aptitude to come from behind to lead last night. We came within minutes of leaping out of the bottom three after Rudy Gestede equalised Yates shot out of the blue and then Lewis Wing finished (just) the outstanding Hayden Coulson's arrow like run and pass. Lewis Grabban's late goal means Boro stay in the bottom three and the hunt for another win goes on. Then again, there were so many positive signs last night, pointers that we can pull ourselves out of this mire.

Boro will travel to Charlton for another six pointer at The Valley and thanks to Lewis Grabban's smash and grab'ban we will do this from a place in the bottom three. A win away in London is now imperative but the way we bounced back last night from that first half set-back is a sign that the team still having the belief and the ability to respond. And the goals.

When Lewis Wing shot on target mid way through the first half there were ironic cheers from the stands. It has been a rarity to get a shot off, never mind an effort between the posts. Yet, last night given more space and time by the play off placed visitors we responded well and there was far more creativity and a cutting edge.

Boro have struggled to put out the same defensive line for successive games this season and last night it was a completely rearranged forward line without the injured Fletcher and Britt. Injuries have bitten deep this campaign.

Lewis Wing supported a recalled Rudy Gestede last night. Hayden Coulson operated as a speedy left flanker, often switching with the perpetually moving Tavernier coming in off the right. Boro tried to move the ball much swifter, one touch, bright, alert. This did mean that passes went astray at times, yet pushed and prompted by McNair and Clayton in midfield Boro pressed Forest back and looked a yard quicker than the team 4th in the league.

It was just about the first meaningful attack of the visitors that saw them upset the apple-cart when Yates struck hard and true into the very bottom corner of the net from outside the box. It was almost a carbon copy of the goal from Leeds that gave us the final push towards the bottom three.

But Boro showed real character in hitting back. Gestede showed that he could get into Forest keeper's Samba head when he hassled him into spilling the ball. Samba was on the deck leaving his goal exposed but Lewis Wing could not beat the defender with his shot. Yet Boro continued to push forwards and Paddy McNair's flighted free kick was headed across goal by Harold Makoobi and Gestede rose high to squeeze the ball home at the back post. No wonder Pears was incensed with the defending on the edge of his box.

Boro had the momentum now and straight afterwards we made it count as Pears picked out Coulson with a long throw out. Hayden Coulson arrowed across the field from the right touchline scorching a path between defenders. He ended the run with a pass picking out Lewis Wing whose shot only just squeezed under Samba. The Forest keeper clawed the ball out but only after it had crossed the line.

Boro tried to manage the game after the break, Paddy McNair looking near back to his best was driving onwards with the ball. Coulson was outstanding, all over the pitch, seemingly starting moves before trying to finish them. Tavernier, was another constant irritant to the visitors, like Coulson and Wing covering so much ground never giving the defence a moment's rest. With so much speed and power in our ranks we looked really dangerous on the breakaway.

Forest made changes and gradually started to seize the midfield and drive a tiring Boro backwards. We had to withstand corner after corner. Wing had run himself into the ground and was withdrawn for Saville, an attempt to try and compete again and win back the ball. With the clock counting down it was heartbreak for Boro. Grabban, who has been suffering a long goal drought, showed all his long experience by backing into Pears and then cleverly flicking the ball past the young keeper into the unguarded net. Anguish. So close and yet so far.

Forest might well have stolen the game late doors as we were struggling to hold on in there. Still, there was disappointment at full time, we had almost taken all the points and what a difference that victory would have meant. Coulson was absolutely outstanding. But we can also be heartened by a return to form for Paddy McNair and Tav just tries, tries and tries again.

We ought to have been more accurate in picking out Rudy Gestede who had the keeper worried. However, a goal scoring return for the big forward was another big plus. Adam Clayton quietly got on with his job in midfield providing a platform. Skipper Howson was pushing on again and again from right back. I wonder if Woodgate will soon unleash late sub Djed Spence from the start again in a double pincer with Coulson.

So, Boro are confirmed in the bottom three but we have sent out a signal that we are not dead yet. There were very real signs of a reaction last night. Can we now build on that, complete a double over Charlton and then kick onwards and upwards?

Up The Boro

Middlesbrough 2-2 Nottingham Forest - Gestede, Wing

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