Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Boro's Makeshift Men Earn a Point

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Boro's Makeshift Men Earn a Point

Article excerpt

Middlesbrough 1

Arsenal 1

GARETH Southgate hailed his patched-up heroes after a spirited show earned Middlesbrough a gritty point at home to Arsenal.

A makeshift back line put in a sterling show as Boro came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw at the Riverside and maintain Southgate's unbeaten record against Arsene Wenger as a manager.

And but for Boro being on the wrong end of a contentious penalty decision for the second week running, they could well have won.

Few would have thought it possible before kick-off as Southgate was forced to cobble together a fragile looking defence from the walking wounded.

In the build-up Boro found right-back Justin Hoyte needed surgery on a cartilage injury and left-back Andrew Taylor suffered a knock while David Wheater was suspended.

Southgate had to throw in Robert Huth for his first game this term, rush back Chris Riggott from injury and call up Tony McMahon after two years of injury hell and spells on loan as well as ask skipper Emanuel Pogatetz to play through the pain barrier.

Southgate said: "It has been an incredible week for dealing with setbacks. We only had six first-teamers training on Tuesday.

"But the performance of the back four in particular, and in the circumstances, was phenomenal.

"Huth went in despite not training for seven weeks and without even a reserve game, Riggott didn't train until Thursday after three weeks out injured, McMahon hasn't played for us for two years and Pogatetz needed pain-killing injections in his shoulder in order to play.

"But they were all excellent. The commitment and quality against a side of the quality of Arsenal was outstanding."

Boro set out almost as the away team as they dropped pounds 12.7m record buy Afonso Alves to the bench and put Jeremie Aliadiere in an unaccustomed lone front role ahead of a five-man midfield.

They started with a defensive mindset and were looking to soak up the pressure and hit on the break - and the game plan worked. Boro had to dig deep at times and it needed a string of last gasp blocking tackles in and around the box to keep Arsenal at bay. But they succeeded in restricting the visitors to few concrete chances while they looked dangerous on the break. …

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