Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Blackburn 3 Boro 2

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Blackburn 3 Boro 2

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

It's snakes and ladders!

Boro's yo-yo season has hit a downward slide again.

A new streak of sloppy defending threatens to derail Boro's cup express.

Three defeats in a week, with seven goals conceded, smacks of problems at the back.

Just when Boro were on the verge of achieving the level of consistency they were striving for, they have slipped off the ladder again.

This latest reverse at Ewood Park was instantly avoidable, but Boro made it easy for Blackburn, especially once Rovers had gone down to ten men.

Steve McClaren made seven changes and, again, the manager's selection was not the root cause of the problem.

Boro had enough quality on the pitch to have won the game and they would have won it if they had tamed livewire Craig Bellamy.

Maybe Boro were too free and easy in a surprisingly open first half. They had the better chances, but still trailed at the interval as the result of a clinical Bellamy strike and a bit of cheating from Morten Gamst Pedersen, who moved a right-sided goal-line free kick several yards away from the line, and promptly kicked it into Boro's net.

If referee Chris Foy had insisted on Pedersen taking the kick from its rightful spot, then Boro would have been looking at a point.

But Mr Foy had a personal nightmare and, anyway, Boro never looked settled at any time.

It was no surprise to see McClaren scrap the 4-5-1 formation at the interval in the search for a more effective system.

The manager switched to wing-backs, with Emanuel Pogatetz coming on as a third central defender alongside Ugo Ehiogu and Franck Queudrue, and Yakubu accompanying first half scorer Mark Viduka up front.

Yakubu might have had a penalty inside three minutes when knocked over inside the box by Zurab Khizanishvili, but Mr Foy would have none of it. …

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