Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A Single Minute Can Change All

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A Single Minute Can Change All

Article excerpt


IT was a genuine heart in the mouth moment.

The game had entered its 87th minute and Middlesbrough were leading 3-2 after twice coming from behind to shade a scrappy game.

Throughout the match, Queens Park Rangers were doing a very good job of making Boro's usually impregnable defence look decidedly ordinary. And, in a late attack, the ball fell nicely for Pawel Wszolek inside the penalty area. An entire stadium held its breath. But, from a wonderful position to the right of goal, the sub hammered his shot straight at Darren Randolph's left-hand post.

Had Wszolek scored, Rangers would have been level and Boro would almost certainly have drawn what was an eminently winnable match.

Such are the fine margins between success and failure in the Championship.

Talking of tight calls, there's pretty strong circumstantial evidence that the ball briefly went out of play before Marvin Johnson set up Britt Assombalonga's winner on the hour mark. As it is, Garry Monk will be reflecting on a vital home win that sets his team up for an assault on the top six. He'll also be reflecting on the gut-wrenching highs and lows that a manager must endure in a typical 90 minutes of competitive football.

Not for the first time this season, Boro have been slow out of the traps. It's something Monk has talked about so to see his side fall behind to a sloppy second minute goal must have been incredibly frustrating and resulted in a quick search for some indigestion tablets to settle that inevitably knotted stomach.

Dael Fry's weak header allowed Luke Freeman to win possession and advance towards goal. The visitors opened Boro up far too easily and David Wheeler managed to get goalside of his marker to score the opener from close range when the ball found its way to him.

The early breakthrough for Rangers did nothing to improve what was a pretty low key atmosphere on an autumnal afternoon ideal for football.

Given the strength of Boro's squad following a busy summer in the transfer market, there's a sense of expectation among a fair percentage of supporters that their team should be too hot to handle against most of the clubs visiting the Riverside, particularly one decimated by injuries in defence.

But Ian Holloway is a wily old fox and he set up Rangers to contain and frustrate Monk's men.

That made for a scrappy first half that featured little in the way of quality.

One special moment came in the 21st minute when Stewart Downing played a clever ball to Marvin Johnson, who turned impressively on the left side of the box before pulling his angled shot across the face of the goal.

It was a sign that the winger, making his first Middlesbrough start after promising cameos at Bolton and Aston Villa, was going to be a genuine threat in the final third against Rangers. …

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