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Birmingham v Boro
 

Birmingham v Boro

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Andy R
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Topic starter  

As we welcome in the New Year, some things remain forever constant. One of those is that the Championship is daft as a brush.

Rewind to the 3rd October, just three short months ago. Boro have just lost to Coventry – the Midlanders first victory of the season - and have slipped to 22nd in the Championship table. We’ve won just two of our eleven games played. The summer recruitment drive has bombed and we’ve lost talisman Tav in the process. “Promotion specialist” Chris Wilder has just been sacked. The club is in a state of in-fighting crisis with pre-season promotion hopes in flames.

Snap back to today and following Thursday night’s excellent 2-1 win down at Ewood Park (EWOOD PARK! We never win there!) and Boro have surged into the playoff pack. The club is united from Chairman to tea lady (or possibly even tea man, who knows? Do footballers even drink tea??), orbiting around the mature and measured reassurance of rookie Head Coach, Michael Carrick. What a turnaround.

Thursday’s victory, like so many over the past few months, could easily have gone the other way. Ryan Hedges’ highly suspicious opener came from nowhere after Boro started brightly but could easily have been the setback we couldn’t recover from – Blackburn are 3rd in the league after all.

Carrick had uncharacteristically shuffled his pack with Crooks playing at centre-forward and Forss pushed out wide, replacing Isaiah Jones. Crooks did an admirable job as a roaming target man-cum-poacher with a varied skillset of movement, flicks and brute hold-it-up strength. Forss on the other hand, looked lost.

Boro had been the better side in the first 45 but trailed away from home to a team who win every other game. And then something happened at half time.

Boro resumed with Forss reborn as he smashed Boro level seconds after the whistle, then later turned provider for Riley McGree’s deserved winner. For a few brief moments, Boro were 5th in the table!

I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t think Forss is a natural no. 9. He looks more suited to playing a Marcus Rashford-type wide forward role, driving at defences and pressing high up the field. He is Watmore’s natural successor - less havoc-wreaking but more ruthless. It could well be that he develops into that sort of forward, albeit perhaps on the left rather than the right. Thinking of January transfers however, there does seem to be a clear message that Carrick wants a no.9 with Muniz and Hoppe rarely seen and Crooks moonlighting up top.

That can wait a little while, however, as Boro face another away game on Monday against Birmingham City, kick-off 3pm.

Following Friday’s 0-1 defeat against Hull City, John Eustace’s Birmingham sit 16th in the league. Three weeks ago they were ahead of Boro but our victories over Wigan and Blackburn against Birmingham’s two defeats have reversed the standings with a whopping ten places now separating the teams. I told you this league was daft.

Indeed, it’s been a downward spiral of recent form for the Bluenoses with just one win and three defeats in their last six, whilst Boro are riding high with five wins and just the one defeat.

Scott Hogan is the club’s top scorer with nine but goals have been a problem for the hosts – just 26 from 25 games - with only Preston, Huddersfield and Wigan scoring fewer.

Usually setting up with a back three, the Blues tend to play an old school direct and physical game focused on delivering crosses. They don’t tend to dominate possession but their defensive record - the league’s joint-fifth best with just 26 conceded - suggests they can be effective at stifling their opposition. It all sounds a bit Pulis/Warnock-esque and we may not be in for a New Year’s feast of football.

So expect a tight, possibly feisty affair but with Boro having more of the ball, and likely more quality on it. Birmingham are sure to make life difficult for us but Boro go into the game as favourites, which won’t have been the case for an away game very often this season.

Coming full circle, the last time these sides met was on Wednesday 5th October, just two days after the sacking of Wilder. Leo Percovich guided the reds to a tight and tense 1-0 victory courtesy of a Chuba Akpom (who else?) goal. We’d take that again, wouldn’t we?

I can see Boro nicking this by one goal if we stand up to the physical test. I’ll go Birmingham 1-2 Boro. How about you?

Happy New Year.


Original Fat Bob
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Thanks Andy for a great opening post much appreciated.

I just hope that typical Boro don’t turn up at Birmingham and we lose what should be a 3 point game to ensure our grip on the rocky road of hopeful playoff candidates.

I forecast correctly the 1-2 Blackburn win (yes even I was surprised!) so I’ll go along with a win too and say 0-3 !

Those foam hands 🙌 I received for Xmas are the best ones I’ve ever had !

Happy New Year to you and all fellow Diasborians….

OFB


Original Fat Bob
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Posts: 1897
 

 

Thanks Andy for a great opening post much appreciated.

I just hope that typical Boro don’t turn up at Birmingham and we lose what should be a 3 point game to ensure our grip on the rocky road of hopeful playoff candidates.

I forecast correctly the 1-2 Blackburn win (yes even I was surprised!) so I’ll go along with a win too and say 0-3 !

Those foam hands 🙌 I received for Xmas are the best ones I’ve ever had !

Happy New Year to you and all fellow Diasborians….

OFB


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Powmill-Naemore
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Thanks for another excellent piece to sign off the year with Andy, or should that be to open the new year with? Either way, Happy New Year to you too and to everyone else in here.

And what a happy new year we now have in prospect. Who would have thought it twelve weeks ago?

Daft is certaiy the best way to describe this league this season. We cannot take anything for granted. A loss and a draw in quick succession could have us tumbling the league a half a dozen places or more. Almost any team is capable of beating any other. So, hopefully our momentum and new found self-belief is going to give us the edge more times than not, including against Birmingham. 

It will be difficult. A holiday fixture will see a large and highly partisan crowd lifting the home side and we are are susceptible to leaking a goal every time we take to the pitch. It will be interesting to see how MC will line us up. I have a feeling he might go for the same starting eleven, especially given Jones poor form just now.

It is going to be tight, and I will be happy for us to take a single point, but still floating high on the fumes from my foam hands I will predict another 2-1 victory away from home, including Crooks getting on the score sheet.

CoB

 


lenmasterman
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Posts: 490
 

Terrific ,well-written opener, Andy.  Many thanks.


exmil
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Another great opener to finish 2022 off Andy, thanks to you and OFB for your diligent work throughout the year, I will pass your names to the honours list committee 👍.

What a strange year for MFC and their long suffering fans but as someone once said “It’s turned out nice again” I think he used to play a ukulele.

 I take this opportunity to wish all on diasboro, a happy and prosperous New Year and all those with illness I hope 2023 is a year of full recovery.

Come on BORO.


K P in Spain
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Thanks Andy for your last pre match editorial of 2022.  

Thanks to you and OFB for all your endeavours which we all appreciate.

I think that Brum won’t be a pushover by any means and we will do well to come away with a point, three would be nice to start the New Year but as OFB said, we don’t want typical Boro turning up.

Goals may be hard to come by as Brum are defensively sound as you mentioned and they surprised me at the Riverside with their attacking intent and the way they moved the ball.  The long ball/direct approach seemed to have been dispensed with albeit that may no longer be the case and I certainly expect them to be physical.

This may be a ⚽️-⚽️ or certainly no more than one goal in it, hopefully in favour of us.  Barring injuries, same team again. 

Finally, very best wishes to all Diasborians for 2023 and fingers crossed it’s a successful one for MFC.  CoB 😎


John Richardson
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A big thank you to Andy for the opener, well done. This one is a funny game for me so here's hoping Boro come up trumps and start the New Year the way they intend to go on but I'd have Birmingham down as party poopers.

No predictions then and I'd just like to see no conceding from Boro. My eyes will be watching the sky!

A happy and healthy new year to everyone in the DiasBoro.

UTB,

John


Ken Smith
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Posts: 1986
 

The first goalkeeper to be given the title of  ‘The Cat’ was Ted Ditchburn of Spurs in 1946 some 22 years before Peter Bonetti. In those days the England team including goalkeepers was chosen by a selection panel of club chairmen. After the retirement of Frank Swift (19 caps and number 69 on the list of England goalkeepers) Ditchburn (6 caps), Wolves’s Bert Williams (24 caps), Brum’s Gil Merrick (23 caps), Man United’s Ray Wood (3 caps), Coventry’s Reg Matthews (5 caps), Sheff United’s Alan Hodgkinson (5 caps), Bolton’s Eddie Hopkinson (14 caps), Burnley’s Colin McDonald (8 caps) and Sheff Wed’s Ron Springett (33 caps) have been added to that list now totalling 116 different international goalkeepers since the first one in 1872.

What a way to choose an international football team! It seemed to be whoever was available! Once Walter Winterbottom was chosen as manager England had a succession of permanent goalkeepers including Gordon Banks (73 caps after which he had trouble with his eyesight), Peter Bonetti (only 7 caps), Peter Shilton (125 caps) and Ray Clemence (61 caps). Going back to 1908 even Boro’s Tim Williamson won 2 England caps. Perhaps if Rolando Ugolini had been born in England instead of Italy, he too might have been chosen for England!  Mind if anyone else would have deserved the title of ‘The Cat’ it would have to be Ugo. He made even the simplest of saves look spectacular, but we all loved him.

My final word on Pele was from the 1977 FA Cup Final against Chelsea at Wembley  when Pele was invited to attend.. Some Boro wag (not Chris Kamala I might add) enquired “Whose that black geezer sitting next to Wilf Mannion in the main stand?”  By the way, congratulations to Kammy on his award of the MBE in the New Years Honour List. His gaffes on YouTube this morning helped to brighten up my day.

This post was modified 4 weeks ago 3 times by Ken Smith

David in Cumbria
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Posts: 239
 

Thanks for the preview Andy. I am enjoying the improved form under Carrick but kept from getting too optimistic by the fact that it is not very long ago that I was thinking that Wilder was the manager who would get us back to the PL (as well as my natural pessimism). Can Carrick overcome another "typical Boro" problem - poor new year form? I have been pleasantly surprised that in spite of his limited managerial experience MC seems to have stepped straight in with the ability to see how to get the best from the squad and change the way we play when necessary whereas for all his previous success Wilder couldn't adapt and the players had seen through him. 

As I can't get to that many home games I'm glad the Birmingham match is again being streamed so that I can see more full Boro action but still prefer being at the Riverside in spite of all the travelling hassle to sitting at home (even with a bottle of wine). I'm hoping for a win to and for us to stay around the top six. I agree it would be a relief if we stop letting in that first goal.

After this match we return to a more normal fixture list with most weeks having only a Saturday match which will at least ease the pressure you and OFB have had in preparing for the next match. Thanks for keeping Diasboro going.  Best Wishes to OFB and yourself for the New Year and to all other Diasborians.


Allan in Bahrain
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Happy New Year to all fellow Boro supporters and here's to a good run of form towards the playoffs.

Thanks to all contributors on this the grown-up blog and long may it continue.


Clive Hurren
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Can I add my thanks for yet another fine opener, Andy? Truly, you and OFB deserve medals! Hopefully, they’ll be play-off final winners’ medals!

I’m going for a narrow 1-0 win to Boro today.  Come on Boro! 

Meanwhile, a very happy New Year to you all. 

This post was modified 4 weeks ago 2 times by Clive Hurren

lenmasterman
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Posts: 490
 

Happy New Year everyone.

 B'ham City 1  Boro 2  

I thought we played well for most of the first half after going behind at Blackburn, but poorly in failing to keep the ball and exploiting our one-man advantage in the second after Hackney's departure. Philip summed up the game admirably on here. Giles' defensive inadequacies caught us out at Burnley, and will continue to do so in away games unless we have a decent left back playing behind him. Hope that isn't the story of today's game.


Forever Dormo
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Thanks, Andy R for your last opener of the year/first opener of 2023.  I think we have to go along with Original Old Codger's suggested result and even his score (1-3) despite Birmingham's mean defence.

Clive - Play-Off winner's medals?  Writing off automatic promotion at this early stage....? 

My wife has now confiscated my foam hands...


Ken Smith
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Posts: 1986
 

After a horrible Christmas Day which didn’t go to plan, I watched a couple of recordings of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas shows from 1970 and 1972 which I don’t recall having seen before. The first one included Vera Lynn and I can now realise why she became known as the Forces Sweetheart, but my attention also revolved around Kenny Ball the trumpeter who made traditional jazz so popular 50 years ago. He became a big attraction at Redcar’s Coatham Hotel on most Sunday evenings at the time, and on one occasion along with Acker Bilk, Alex Welch, Terry Lightfoot and Chris Barber appeared at a special jazz festival in a tented village at Redcar Racecourse.

He had a career of topping the British jazz charts with 14 successive hit records under the Pye label, but his biggest hit was ‘Midnight in Moscow’ in 1961 so I was determined to visit Russian’s capital city in the winter of 1978 to visit Red Square and the Kremlin to see what had persuaded Kenny Ball to record this song. Despite only 4 hours daylight in that December and temperatures of minus 17 degrees, my wife and I enjoyed our period in Moscow especially riding on the metro visiting the railway stations most of which had been the Czars former palaces and adorned with magnificent crystal chandeliers.  

There had been an unsubstantiated rumour that an older version of ‘Midnight in Moscow’ (Moscow Nights) had been played at an unofficial meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, and that the two presidents had sung or hummed together to the music, but I have found no evidence of that.

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by Ken Smith

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Stircrazy
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This afternoon's starting XI:

Image

Jones again on the bench.


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Stircrazy
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Howson's racking up the yellows:  booked in the 15th minute for a "bad foul".  I think that makes five so far this season.


Andy R
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Topic starter  

The first half very much going to script with Boro dominating the ball but not finding it easy to break down an organised Birmingham. 9 shots for Boro but 6 of them have been blocked by the Blues.

Akpom and Crooks both well marshalled and quiet. Hackney Boro’s best (again) so far.

The hosts offering next to nothing at the other end however (1 shot, off target) and Boro comfortable enough. Birmingham do have some pace out wide to be wary of.

Game should open up more in the second half. Really good chance for Boro to keep their momentum going if they can create that one big chance and take it.


PaulInBoro
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Lots of possession and not much else in my humble opinion

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by PaulInBoro

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Stircrazy
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Posted by: @andy-r

The first half very much going to script with Boro dominating the ball but not finding it easy to break down an organised Birmingham. 9 shots for Boro but 6 of them have been blocked by the Blues.

Akpom and Crooks both well marshalled and quiet. Hackney Boro’s best (again) so far.

The hosts offering next to nothing at the other end however (1 shot, off target) and Boro comfortable enough. Birmingham do have some pace out wide to be wary of.

Game should open up more in the second half. Really good chance for Boro to keep their momentum going if they can create that one big chance and take it.

Vic's assessment of the half:

HT: 0-0. Boro generally in control with long spells of patient passing & the odd flash of promise but only the odd half-chance so fat [sic!]. With injury interruptions the closing spell got a bit ragged & Brum woke up. Need to up the intensity and make possession count.


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Stircrazy
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What was Vic saying?  0-1 - Matt Crooks in the 57th minute, header from a Howson cross.  🙂  I think Brum had a goal disallowed just before that.


David in Cumbria
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Boro 2 - 0 Crooks


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Stircrazy
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Posted by: @david-in-cumbria

Boro 2 - 0 Crooks

According to Vic, after "Gorgeous George", on as a sub after being out since August, scuffed his shot.


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Stircrazy
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Boro now up to FOURTH after being pushed down to eighth overnight by Millwall's & Blunderland's wins yesterday.  Boro now above Millwall by virtue of a superior GD (+8 compared with +6).  Let's hope it stays that way - or gets even better. 😉


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David in Cumbria
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Boro 2 - 1.

2 against 1 Boro defender on far post to head back across box again.  Now can Boro defence hold out?

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by David in Cumbria

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Stircrazy
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Akpom finally gets his name on the scoresheet to make it 1-3, this time assisted by Crooks!

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by Stircrazy

David in Cumbria
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Boro 3 - 1 About time Akpom scored again!


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Forever Dormo
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1-3, as predicted.

Does it get better than this (apart from 1-4, 1-5, 0-3, 0-4 etc)?


Martin Bellamy
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Another £10 well spent and another deserved win. The Championship is bonkers isn’t it? Any team that can put a good run of wins together can secure a playoff place but the top two look uncatchable atm. 


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Stircrazy
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Posted by: @stircrazy

Boro now up to FOURTH after being pushed down to eighth overnight by Millwall's & Blunderland's wins yesterday.  Boro now above Millwall by virtue of a superior GD (+8 compared with +6).  Let's hope it stays that way - or gets even better. 😉

Slipped a place to fifth after Watford beat Norwich at Carrow Road by the only goal, scored in the 86th minute.

Matt Crooks has now leapfrogged Forss & Watmore to move to second in the leading scorer table behind Akpom (13 & 6 respectively).


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