Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It's Time for Clean Sheet Boro 2 West Brom 2

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It's Time for Clean Sheet Boro 2 West Brom 2

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Boro's defensive frailties came back to haunt them again as another two valuable points were frittered away at the Riverside Stadium

It's time to plug the gaps.

Boro's quest for goals is masking the team's over-riding problem - a frustrating failure to keep clean sheets.

Another two goals conceded at home, against the struggling Baggies, is not acceptable.

Boro haven't recorded a shut out in the Premiership since August.

That's a damning indictment of what's been going wrong this season.

They may have scraped into the top half of the table thanks to yesterday's draw, but with games to come at Chelsea and Liverpool over the next two weeks, Boro must start to tighten up.

It's true that West Brom's opening goal was the result of an individual mistake by Franck Queudrue, and Boro don't make too many of them.

But their defending when conceding goals this season has generally been sloppy.

Kanu summed this up when receiving the ball in space and then sending Gareth Southgate the wrong way before scoring the visitors' second goal.

As Steve McClaren said afterwards, you shouldn't expect to have to score three goals at home to win games.

But then the manager and his coaching staff have to deal with the dilemma.

Even with three centre-backs, Boro are shipping too many goals, and so the system needs some positive tinkering.

McClaren reverted to a flat back four in the second half yesterday, with Szilard Nemeth operating just behind the front two, and Boro did create more.

But the Kanu goal was a killer and, even after Yakubu's penalty spot leveller, Boro rarely looked like winning the game.

So they wasted the ideal start after Mark Viduka's superb finish in the 12th minute brought the Aussie his sixth goal of the season.

Bryan Robson's men were level six minutes later when Nathan Ellington took advantage of Queudrue's error, after the Frenchman had run into Kanu. …

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