Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Broken Boro's New Year Nightmare

As infuriating as it was inevitable - does everyone still remember last season and how the optimism of December 2011 gave way to nul points and a solitary consolation goal in January 2012? - Boro's New Year's Day collapse at Pride Park is scary enough when the manner of the goals conceded and the effect on the team's form and morale are considered.

But I haven't mentioned the treatment table yet.

Joining an injury list already consisting of Seb Hines, Julio Arca, Andre Bikey, Justin Hoyte, George Friend, Josh McEachran, Faris Haroun, Muzzy Carayol, Marvin Emnes, Curtis Main and Emmanuel Ledesma were Jonathan Woodgate (unsurprising) and Scott McDonald (frightening). Even Grant Leadbitter failed to finish a match when available for the first time this season, and Lukas Jutkiewicz was seen hobbling around at one point. That is, if you count the unfit-but-playing Stuart Parnaby and Andy Halliday, up to SEVEN defenders, SIX midfielders and FOUR forwards amongst the walking wounded. Nightmare.

Almost as nightmarish was Boro's defending during the match. Slack marking at the back after Scotty had needlessly given away a free-kick allowed a virtually unchallenged Michael Jacobs to slot home from close range. Nobody picked up Jeff Hendrick as he fired home from twenty yards out to double Derby's lead after 42 minutes - and we nearly gave away a third before the interval when Ben Davies hit the bar with a thirty-yard free kick.

No matter, the third was on the way anyway after Jason Steele spilled a shot into Connor Sammon's path - and as much at fault as Steele was, someone should have picked up Sammon before he latched onto the rebound. Lukey Juke's consolation seemed scant... more on that in a moment.

I've always believed that defeats like these can be rather revealing, as they're potentially thorough exposures of a club's failings, weaknesses and what they need to work on to improve and/or get results when the "machine" isn't working according to plan. There is every bit a chance that the Derby Demolition of 2013 could set us off on a similar downward spiral to last season (where, lest we forget, we managed just six wins in the last twenty-three league games). Likewise, it may fire us up, forcing us to concentrate on how we can use our horribly over-stretched resources to bounce back both in the cup and the league.

For despite our increasing injury list, and today's no-show, we have retained a healthy seven point lead and superior goal difference over seventh-placed Millwall, and remain just two points behind second-placed Hull, with an equally good goal difference. The Jukebox's apparently irrelevant consolation has seen to that.

On to Hastings, and Watford. And I look forward to better from Boro in both matches... no matter what starting XIs we're forced to put out.

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