Thursday, 23 August 2012

Teenage Kicks Are Hard To Beat...

Football. Bloody hell, indeed!

In a game where a matter of minutes is an eternity, where one shot, save, pass, flick, tackle or header can transform tragedy into triumph, Boro - or should I say, Boro's kids - came up trumps against Burnley on Tuesday night, producing two of the goals of the season and possibly - possibly - turning the season on its head.

One point became three in a dazzling twelve-minute finale that was almost totally out of context with everything that preceded it. And yet...

The first seventy-eight minutes had seen the usual moans in the Twittersphere. Why was Mogga playing Josh McEachran, a left-sided central midfielder, on the right? Why, considering our striker shortage, were we continuing to leave Scott McDonald in exile? What was the point of our team dominating midfield if there was no end product to show for it? Even after Nicky Bailey had thundered home a Curtis Main knockdown to immediately cancel out a poorly given away Burnley goal, doubts remained. Such have been the damaging effects arising from raised expectations following the heights of 2011.

One of those heights was seeing an unknown eighteen-year-old called Adam Reach score on his debut against Doncaster. From that moment on, we were all watching out for the youngster, wondering when he would next make an appearance, or if he would literally reach such heights again.

A full season and some promising cameos later, we got our answer - and how! A highly promising first full home debut was capped off with a goal that left Ali Brownlee comparing the lad to Pele. Suddenly, the disappointing headlines were being re-written: BORO "REACH" FOR THE SKIES couldn't have seemed more apt. But they were ripped to shreds within minutes as more poor marking - and with an internationally proven centre back partnership, this is inexcusable - allowed Junior Stanislas to equalise.

And then...

 "Anything you can do, I can do better..."

Well, who'd have thunk it? The team that have made a habit of building up optimism and then destroying it under Tony Mowbray managed to build it up again that very same night! This time, it was the turn of Luke Williams to get in on the act with a 35-yarder that turned agony to ecstasy in the most bizarre and welcome way imaginable. Forget Emerson - as Ali hinted, Jairzinho would have been proud.

Positives and plaudits aplenty have been sweeping the web the last few days. Despite conceding two goals, Woodgate and Rhys Williams are showing signs of a promising partnership. Justin Hoyte responded to the boo-boys with a fine all-around display. McEachran had a dream debut, minus the goal. And there seems to be an understanding developing throughout the whole squad that validates Mogga's claim that "this is the best team spirit we've had."

What a pity only 15,559 turned up to watch!

Alas, every silver lining has a cloud or two. With Emnes reportedly a target for Swansea, Jutkiewicz still on the treatment table and the McDonald situation remaining unresolved, we lack both quality and quantity up front. And Nicky Bailey, who set the ball rolling against Burnley with a mighty fine goal of his own, has done his hamstring and is out of action for a month. You'd think it wouldn't be as serious a loss as it was last season, considering the amount of midfielders we have - but with Thomson's perpetual injury problems, it does leave us rather short of ball winners. Perhaps the best solution at this moment in time is to move Leadbitter to the centre alongside McEachran and play, perhaps, Haroun on the right?

Whatever happens, we'll take it as it comes. For despite all the uncertainties, we've burned Burnley. Now let's break down Palace!

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