Thursday, 2 February 2012

Sucker Punched, Again - Boro's Groundhog Day Complexion

It's Groundhog Day as I write this. Literally. But while many Americans will, as the legendary Bill Murray put it, be preparing themselves for "the excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather", we are faced, yet again, with dealing with our own Groundhog Day complexion. That is to say, trying to halt the repeating cycle of late concessions, missed chances, horrendous gaffes, and unfortunate injuries - again and again and again.

What looked like being a triumphant "Return Of The Mack" - Scott McDonald having scored his ninth goal of the season, and Tony McMahon finally rediscovering his scoring boots in style - turned into a nightmare for both players.

Scotty Mac was forced off with what we later found out was a ligament injury. It will keep him out for weeks. Not fair on him, as he was so close to double figures. Worse still, we need him too - No-Longer-Marvellous Marvin Emnes is resembling a passenger these days, and The Juke is still finding his feet.

And merely minutes after he must have felt like he was on Cloud Nine, Tony Mc suffered a case of the "Barry Robson's" as he underhit a backpass to Jason Steele with Jermaine Beckford lurking. You can pretty much guess what happened next.

How many times have we told you, lads - "If in doubt, kick it out?" Or, more importantly...

Yep - Tony Mc's goal, a free-kick, was scored after 79 minutes, and Beckford's goal came in the last ten minutes. So much for "lessons learned" and all that.

It really is amazing. The smile off my face has not been wiped off so quickly since Liam Miller's freak 35 yarder slowly crept into the net to deny us maximum points in the Tees-Wear Derby in 2007. Mido, Arca and Tuncay had already limped off in a game we’d bossed from start to finish, so it was a real blow.

Admittedly this was a little different. It was an away match against a team we hadn't beaten on their home turf for more than a decade. They deserved their point - Beckford had hit the bar not too long before his goal. And from what I hear on Twitter, most fans seem happy with a point that they would have taken before the game.

But I can't help seeing this as yet another missed opportunity. Our inability to score, defend and do the simplest things when it matters most are costing us dearly. Of course the Moggalution's been great! We're in the play-off places! But there's still that nagging feeling that there could've been so much more. Where's last-minute specialist Tarmo Kink, Leroy Lita or an in-form Marvin Emnes when you need them? (Oh, that's right... gone, gone, and currently non-existent.)

We’ve come so far in the last year and a half that it's no surprise a result such as this, especially considering all our injuries, is pleasing in retrospect. Yet any team that flirts with success for sustained periods of time - like we have this season with the automatic promotion spots - sets a higher standard for itself.

I wonder - how many more draws or narrow defeats will it take before it really is too late to save the season?

1 comment:

Brandon said...

It's been a forgettable start to the Juke era; failed paperwork deadlines, gentleman's agreements precluding participation, and an inability to convert a few gilded chances that very well could have secured cup passage and a vital 3 points at Leicester.

I feared getting turned over today, so the point, however bitter to swallow, was a decent return.

Steele: had a good game after the layoff - he didn't appear at fault on either goal

Hoyte: a downgrade on the left - his early lapse laid the foundation for the opener.

Bates: solid, commanding

Hines: really impressive

Tony Mac: shining performance overshadowed by a catastrophic error

Rhys: see Bates

Robbo: was a bit off - not that surprised at the substitution with eyes on Palace and Sunderland

Haroun: can't really fault his application - another good performance

Scott McDonald: got the first goal expertly - we'll miss him, though not as much as Bailey

Emnes: can't argue that he wasn't more than pedestrian

Juke: didn't get a single call all match from the exuberant ref - St Ledger and Mills couldn't deal with him without the molestation

Subs: Tommo had a good 20+ mins, and provided the ball that should have netted an unassailable third goal - Martin had a few decent touches - Halliday got his feet wet - he can help fill the McDonald void

Thanks for indulging me Si...