Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Victory At Last... But Still No Easy Street For Boro

As far as results go, Boro's 1-0 win over promotion-chasing Forest was a massive relief, a huge shot in the arm for the fans and the team, if not necessarily the club.

The performance itself was, to cut to the chase, a cut-and-paste job. But not the cut-and-paste job that you might expect. To Boro, the story of 2013 to date has been one soulless and damaging result, mostly a defeat, after another, with celebratory moments extremely few and far between. And when analysing the win over Forest, you only have to look back at our 1-0 triumph over Leeds earlier this year, and indeed many of our wins this season - well-taken goal/s, plenty of commitment and passion, but unnecessarily nervy due to missed chances and/or defensive mistakes. Déjà vu, cut-and-paste... the story of both the best and worst of Boro's season. Or Boro full stop, for that matter.

But, nervy or not, win we did. This was one of those rare nights where Boro fans had no need to worry too much about Tony Mowbray's starting eleven (although I did hear discontent over the exclusion of Reach and Jutkiewicz). Truthfully, we need not worry about the starting eleven at all; no matter what team Boro puts out these days, you can't predict the result. It's the very nature of the club. So we're left with having to hope that the players out there deliver. And thankfully, most of them did.

If the win over Forest is to genuinely mean something, and is not just another false dawn like the wins over Leeds and Cardiff clearly were, then there are so many positives to take. Andre Bikey and Rhys Williams, running more like a Rolls again than a Fiat, were superb at the back. Richie Smallwood truly lived up to his "Dormo Destroyer" tag. Nicky Bailey, when he came on, was extremely combative. Grant Leadbitter barked from the bench with passion, his leadership qualities shining through despite the suspension that has temporarily rules him out of action. Kieron Dyer and Josh McEachran lived up to their Premiership reputations, with McEachran's brilliant pass creating the winning goal for Muzzy Carayol. The more you see Carayol shine on the big occasions, the more deeply you regret his enforced five-month absence earlier this season.

Not everything worked, of course. Scott McDonald remains off colour. He missed two sitters, one more than the baffling Faris Haroun, who's capability for even the occasional impressive performance (remember his double strike against Peterborough?) is dwindling by the day. And the promise Sammy Ameobi showed on his debut has long since evaporated. With Bailey, McDonald, McEachran and Bikey, to name but a few, all certain or at least almost certain to depart during the close season, the rebuilding job remains as difficult as ever.

One should not kid him or herself into thinking that one win will solve all our problems. Scarier still, the crazy nature of the Championship has ensured that victory at Bolton and defeats for Leicester and Forest would push us up to three points behind the play-off places with two games to go. And if Leicester, Bolton and Forest were to lose again, and we were to beat Charlton...

No. No. We cannot think like that. The hope will kill us. Far better that we build on what we've learnt from our win and play without fear in our remaining matches, to ensure that we can look forward to the summer in a better frame of mind.

We can still go up. We've won a game. But don't be fooled. Questions still remain.

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