December 1, 2012 by Made In Brum
Blues 3 Middlesbrough 2
Another 3-2? Winning at home? Blues? Really? And before anyone says, I’m not getting excited yet. But the cynics tried telling me at half time that we were ‘ran of the park’. Middlesbrough had enough of the ball but didn’t do a lot with it.
I’m not one for statistic after statistic, but if we must… Shots on target- Blues 9, Boro 6. They only had 2% of the ball more than Blues. But the only stat that matters is the scoreline. And Blues won.
The start which Blues have become accustomed to reared its ugly head again. Grant Leadbitter, who for the record I’ve never rated, headed the visitors ahead in the 14th minute. Why do we do this? But I suppose, as the bloke sitting by me quite kindly pointed out, Middlesbrough are a good side.
The huffing and puffing from the Blues players almost paid off…in the first half. Come on. We never do well in the opening half do we? Not that we were bad. Marlon King came close with a zipping effort and Nikola Zigic looped a header over the bar. For all ‘Boro’s possession and pretty passing, they only worked Jack Butland twice before the break, excluding their goal.
I actually said to a lad behind me ‘if we go in just one goal down, we’ll get at least a point from this’. But, hold on… Ball into the box, King turns, he’s pulled down. PENALTY!! The goal machine, the King stepped up and belted Blues level. The half-time whistle followed immediately. Oh my god. We’re drawing at home!!
Ravel Morrison who wasn’t his usual instrumental self was replaced at the interval, I assume he was injured, replaced by Wade Elliott. Not a fancy or flash lad is our Wade, but he does the mucky stuff and puts a shift in. And occasionally scores a wonder goal. But we’ll come back to that.
The game was tug and pull. Not exactly end-to-end, but decent enough. A speculative ball into the area had Pablo Ibanez in a muddle. Initially, he seemed to be dealing with the danger until he swung at the ball, fell over and tried to throw his head in the way, but the ball was bundled in by Scott McDonald for 2-1. Although the ball appeared to hit a Middlesbrough hand, Blues should have dealt with it a lot better.
Just as another defeat was in the taste buds, with the ball bobbing around the ‘Boro area, Elliott met the falling ball with a great volley. Taking nothing away from him, but the ‘keeper Luke Steele should have saved it. But as it stood, it went flying in for Blues’ second equalizer. Game on.
The introduction of Chris Burke for Rob Hall did Blues the world of good. Don’t get me wrong, Hall was ok, but didn’t look fully fit. This was the Burke that we all love! Every time he picked the ball up, he went for the jugular. Middlesbrough couldn’t deal with him. All it needed was someone to get on the end of a cross. Zigic and King tried but failed. Jonathan Spector, the sponsors man of the match, took matters into his own hands with a mazy run before firing wide. The game was there for the taking, but time was running out.
The visitors gave the ball away in midfield before it was hit down the channel. King controlled it before swivelling and placing a gorgeous effort past the ‘keeper in the 81st minute. Blues had turned it round. But could they hold on?
It wouldn’t have been a travesty had ‘Boro nicked a point. But overall, it has to be said, with Blues’ effort and grit, it was probably deserved. Lee Clark’s substitutions certainly paid off.
Blues ratings- Butland 6. Caddis 7. Ibanez 6. Davies 7. Robinson 6. Hall 6. Mullins 5. Morrison 5. Spector 6. Zigic 6. *KING 8…SUBS USED- Elliott 7. Burke 7. Lovenkrands 6.
Match report by Rob Wildey.