Sunday, 19 January 2014

Middlesbrough 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

Entirely predictable result this which leaves us perilously close to the relegation zone. Goal difference separates us from third bottom Doncaster Rovers, to whom we travel a week on Tuesday. It was a fairly familiar tale in that we were competitive but found short once again in the attacking third…

Our starting eleven changed again to accommodate Yohann Thuram although my blood pressure dropped back quickly after hearing Ben Hamer had a knock and that Ben Alnwick had been taken ill on Friday. I hope that is the case and not a convenient excuse to cover a direction that Thuram must get playing time. Nicky Pope will be hoping his loan move works out and he can move on.

Chris Solly was not risked once more, so Lawrie Wilson was back in defence with Wood, Morrison and Wiggins. Jordan Cook and Calum Harriott were the wide men supporting a three man central midfield of Jackson, Cousins and Stephens. Yann Kermorgant was left to run the channels and hold balls up for himself.

No great surprise given the controversy about the new goalie that he should be at fault for an early goal which won the game. I wasn't there and that may be harsh but it was how it was reported at the time. He was beaten at his near post by a bouncing ball which may have been aided by the wet surface. To be fair, he appears to have earned his corn after that and kept us in the match, especially towards the end when Boro pushed hard for a second. 

Other than that, once again they fought valiantly but were short of the class needed to score goals and Lady Luck wasn't there either. Substitute Simon Church did manage to bundle the ball over the line but fouled Given in the process. Dale Stephens also had a last gasp effort saved by the old stager, something he has made a habit of doing against us. Astrit Ajdarevic also got on as a sub as expected and looked ok by all accounts.

There's increasing noises of dissatisfaction from the faithful that we aren't moving to address the elephants in the room - our gaping need for a goal-scorer and a looming relegation battle.

Indeed, if you look at the run of away fixtures we have, it's apparent that columns of tanks are forming on the horizon. Next up is Doncaster away in a night match. A six pointer and they will be thirsting to beat us after the arrows of outrageous fortune early this season. We then travel to Wigan, not a happy hunting ground for us, before a run against the stronger sides in the division at home. Leeds (beat us with something to spare at the Valley), Leicester (top), Millwall (couldn't even fix a result against them), Forest, Derby and Brighton. No doubt we will pick up points along the way but not enough, i suspect, to keep us out of trouble. That means we will need to win more points at home than we have been doing and that has been our Achille's Heel. QPR, Watford, Huddersfield and Burnley all visit during that sequence. Better opposition invariably raises our game but we need a settled camp and complete togetherness if we are going to get through this. If the contract siege isn't lifted quickly, then, in the nicest possible way,  I suspect the rats may leave the sinking ship. Roland, you can't say you haven't been warned of the imminent danger.


Phil said...

Dave, I see Roland has given way to Robin. I feel we may need Batman too !

Dave said...

Phil - gratitude only lasts so long.

Geoff said...

I'm with the majority of your respondents, Dave, which has sympathy with players with expiring contracts, and also does not want to see CP given his cards. However, it's a two-way play, and in the first half of the Oxford game hardly any of our lot looked as though they were playing for a new contract. Maybe they all have super-efficient, super-confident agents, but you could expect a bit more oomph. You don't convince your new owner by looking like a Conference prospect.

On the CP issue, fingers crossed that what I think of as common sense prevails. Unfortunately, there are too many current examples of a change of manager being followed by improved results. And, horrible to report, at Selhurst and the Tool Box, too. Someone without an emotional tie to CAFC, and looking to follow English fashion might see this as the route to take.