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Boro v Stoke

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Original Fat Bob
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Boro v Stoke

Saturday 30/4/22

K.O.3:0pm Riverside Stadium

 

So, 🎶 “it’s good news week” 🎶as those of us that are old enough to know, this was a sixties song by Hedgehoppers Anonymous. There were quite a few anonymous performances by Boro against Cardiff on Wednesday. It was nice to see however, that Howson got to grips in the second half with Wilders tactical tweak of a more forward placing in the diamond midfield,with Tavernier supporting the strikers and ultimately scoring a great goal. Unfortunately Tav reverted to type and blasted two good goal scoring opportunities high over the bar when a more calculated placed shot could have improved the goals for column.

 

Boro live to fight another day on Saturday when it’s still going to be a good day for me and my wife. We will celebrate her birthday on this day, so no matter what the Boro do, they can’t spoil it.

 

I was in touch with Gary Gill to book lunch at his restaurant in Maltby, but will still get back home in time to hear how the Boro are doing.

 

No, I haven’t forgotten the In2Views with Gary Gill for the Diasboro blog, but I’m sure Andy will agree with me that sharing the writing of the lead posts and raising comments on other Diasborians great posts does take up a lot of time. How Werder managed to do it all on his own and also formulate and maintain the technical aspect, one can only assume he worked 23 hours a day and only managed one hours sleep at night!

 

Whoever goes up to the Premiership with Fulham will have deserved it and so will all the other teams who have qualified in the playoffs.

 

Looking on the bright side let’s face it, we could have been fighting relegation at this stage of the season rather than fighting to the end to try and get into the playoffs. The change of manager certainly altered the ethos of the players and supporters to start looking upward instead of down.

 

Some players have responded better than others and of course the emergence of Jones meant that we could let Spence remain on loan at Forest and hopefully expect a good selling fee at the end of the season.

 

The goalkeeping situation at Boro this season has been a weak spot in the team and neither of the two keepers have filled us Diasborians with confidence. Considering that we have a goalkeeping coach and two former goalkeepers as senior coaches on the sidelines, I must confess that I’m at a loss to explain how we could not identify a keeper to sign in the January transfer window. Hopefully we will address this situation in the summer with a new keeper either on a permanent basis or as a loan signing for the squad.

 

Turning to the defence, Dijksteel has maintained his impressive performance for Boro and appears to be going from strength to strength. He has had several mom games and has pace to keep into the frame against opposing wingers and wingbacks.

 

Dael Fry and Paddy are consistently good, but, but, they sometimes go to sleep and let an unmarked striker have a free header or shot at goal which is not the good trademark of a quality centre half. The comments raised by Wilder that he requires a left sided Centre Back makes me believe that he is considering moving Paddy into a more forward midfield role and releasing Howson who is out of contract this season. Howson should remain in my opinion with the club but perhaps his game time needs to be managed as he comes to the end of his playing career. Whilst Sol Bamba has had some impressive games I’m afraid age is against him and this will undoubtedly be his last season as a player.

 

Bola on the left of the Boro defence, perhaps due to illness and injury has not performed as well as he did last season. He does have the ability to whip a ball across the centre of the goal and also shoot from distance. There however have only been short glimpses of what should have been a match standard from him.

 

Tavernier has been and still is an enigma for most fans. He has the energy and pace but his conversion rate of shots to goals scored is shocking. A few Diasborians have mooted that he should be played as a left wing back and I think they’re right. He can get up and down the line and also tackle well and cross the ball so we’ll see what Wilder does during the close season or even on Saturday against Stoke?

 

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the suspension of Crooks has resulted in three lost games whilst he’s been sat on the sidelines. Whilst we all agree that his performances were notably subdued after the Cup games. It is also noted that  when he was in the ascendancy at the start of the Wilder campaign he was arguably our best player in the team. His disciplinary record has to be addressed and managed as his suspensions from games has definitely cost us points.

 

McGree shows promise and hopefully next season he will have been fully integrated into the Boro ethos and style of play. He scores goals and I used to like the tactics of previous managers who gave each player a target of goals to score for the season. Our midfield should each be scoring between 6 and 10 goals a season to help the forwards and goals for column.

 

Jones who undoubtedly even in the eyes of the manager is the “Player of the Season” is still a young relatively inexperienced professional player. His performances have dropped lately since illness and the tactics adopted by opponents of doubling up on him. Hopefully he will be refreshed and a better player next season for the experiences he has gained this season. He needs to know when to play an incisive pass and not be so keen to dive to the ground when a slight nudge or hand on his shirt is felt. Referees are aware that he is going to ground easily and without the benefit of the Video Assistant Referee System (VAR) are not awarding free

Kicks or penalties which in some cases are undoubted fouls against him.

 

For the game on Saturday the Boro should also welcome Dael Fry back into the team. The Boro boss has confirmed that both Fry and Crooks will be in contention for this week as he is quoted “Dael didn’t make it [on Wednesday]. He didn’t quite make it for this game, but I’d think he’ll definitely be available for the Stoke game.

“He just missed out. We looked at it and thought, is it worth it? But he should be available for the weekend, and with Crooksy coming back too, I’m delighted I’ve got a couple of little options that I need to sort out.”

 

The big talking point is who do Boro leave out to make way for Crooks back into the team? Or do we leave him out to sit on the bench? Thoughts please, but I would say that I would rather have a fresh rejuvenated Crooks playing in the team instead of sitting on the bench.

 

Some interesting stats from the other evening show that 48% of Middlesbrough shots on goal were from the left hand side. From the right hand side there were 34% shots at goal and 18% through the middle.  These metrics revels that the Boro tactics are being spread quite evenly and not relying on Jones as a provider on the right hand side.

 

The pitch action zones for Boro the other evening are: 21% in the home third, 44% in the middle third and 34% in the away third. I agree with some of the Diasborians who have posted that certain Boro players are too keen to play the ball back to the keeper all the time which prevents forward play. Whilst this may improve possession statistics it certain does not create goals.

 

The last couple of months might be why some people call the Championship one of the most unpredictable divisions in the world. Boro were at one time in the top 6 and at the beginning of the season Nottingham Forest were in a relegation spot and look where they are now!

 

Stoke have also shown their potential with good wins over Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn Rovers, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and Millwall. Poor results however, with defeats to Bristol City and Reading, losing at Cardiff and a draw at relegated duo Barnsley and Peterborough have made it a really poor season for them.

 

Boro must be very wary of Stoke as statistics show that every time they play against a team in the top half who are still striving for something, Stoke turn up with nothing to play for and promptly beat them.

 

They are very unpredictable as results show that they’ve beaten QPR and Blackburn. They’ve also beaten, West Brom, Sheffield United and Millwall all  in their last eight games.

 

Conversely in that same time they’ve also lost at Cardiff, they lost at home to Bristol City, they lost away at Reading so it’s a real mixture of inconsistency.

 

Stoke are hoping to end the season with positive momentum and more consistency as they head to Middlesbrough before taking on Coventry at home.

 

Whilst City manager, Michael O’Neill still recovers from his hip replacement operation, assistant manager, Dean Holden has once again stepped up to the pre-match media duties.

Although Powell has not featured for the Potters since March, having suffered a long-term quad injury, the 28-year-old played an entire half during Monday’s U23s fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers, without any alarming problems.

Holden said: “Nick had no reaction and he’s trained this week too. He has now gone up into the next stage of his recovery."

Whilst Holden discussed Powell’s injury, which has been more long term, the assistant manager also discussed additional injuries within the squad and the fact that a couple of players could miss the Boro game as a result. 

Holden said: “We have got another one or two niggles, I have to be honest.

“They are all from last weekend so, potentially there will be a couple of changes but we will see come Friday morning and then pick a team and a squad that will travel to Middlesbrough and hopefully get three points.”

 

So come on you Diasborians are we going to let Stoke have three points or….

“give us the Delia war cry “let’s be aving yer” what’s the score going to be ???

 

Me? You mean Me with the disintegrating foam hands?

 

I’m going for a 3 0 win !

 

Up The Boro

 

OFB


Original Fat Bob
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The Crooks Conundrum 

https://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/Sport/Football/Championship/Middlesbrough

OFB


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Powmill-Naemore
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For me  what happens at the Riverside on Saturday will depend very much on what happens at Loftus Road on Friday evening.

If Shefield win, I expect us to put in a lack lustre performance and possibly even lose the game.

If Sheffield lose or draw I expect us to be up for it and to take full advantage, sending Stoke back to the Potteries well beaten by OFB's 3 goals to nil prediction.

Hope it is the latter...

 


Andy R
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Cheers OFB. Another excellent starter. Will it be your last of the season? I certainly hope not.

All eyes will be on Loftus Road tomorrow night but we can only control what we can control, so whatever the outcome we need to find that missing intensity on Saturday afternoon and keep our season alive.

Crooks would come back in for me as well as Fry, with Bola on the bench. Take your pick up front.

Daniels

Djiksteel Fry McNair

Jones Crooks Howson McGree Tav

??? ???


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @andy-r

...

Crooks would come back in for me as well as Fry, with Bola on the bench. Take your pick up front.

Daniels

Djiksteel Fry McNair

Jones Crooks Howson McGree Tav

??? ???

Agree with that lineup so far as it is incomplete.

At the risk of being controversial here, I might be tempted to start Connolly with any one from the other four.

I would be firing him up to go out and show those ignorant b****rds out there just what you can do to rub their jeers in the dirt. Possibly his last chance to do so and it might just work in our favour if he is going out onto the pitch with attitude.

Just a thought.


jarkko
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@OFB Thanks for the excellent starter to the next match. And perfect timing as we got the latest match out of our system. Now ready to debate the essential match versus Stoke.

I think this match will be the tougher one of the two remaining matches. Stoke is a quality side that has underperformed this season but are in good nick at the moment. Hence I will go for a narrow 1-0 for the Wilder Boro to tame the Potteries.

I hope there is something for us to play when we go to Preston. And lets hope Uncle Albert will play a blinder against Sheffield United tonight. Minimum requirement is a draw but let's hope the R's can cause an upset and win. This is the Championship as we all know.

Up the Boro! 


lenmasterman
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Excellent opener, Bob.  Many thanks. 

That piece on Crooks from the Echo does, of course, quite literally echo our discussion on here earlier this week. Another journo lurker perhaps.

Whatever, Crooks' return should provide us with the energy and commitment so conspicuously lacking for too much of the Cardiff game.

I'll go for a much better performance and a convincing win.

But for heaven's sake, if we do get in front, let us push on and try to take advantage of Stoke having to come out and attack us. Enough of the ball retention, slowing the game down, time wasting and playing for the final whistle.


jarkko
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Posted by: @andy-r

Cheers OFB. Another excellent starter. Will it be your last of the season? I certainly hope not.

All eyes will be on Loftus Road tomorrow night but we can only control what we can control, so whatever the outcome we need to find that missing intensity on Saturday afternoon and keep our season alive.

Crooks would come back in for me as well as Fry, with Bola on the bench. Take your pick up front.

Daniels

Djiksteel Fry McNair

Jones Crooks Howson McGree Tav

??? ???

As we will have Fabrizio Ravanelli at the Stoke match anyway, should we register and play him up-front?  He must as good as any striker we have. 

Of course we could play Crooks up-front with Watmore. And keep the team unchanged apart from the strikers.

My guess is that we will be unchanged and Crooks will be on the bench. I think Wilder was very angry with Crooks ' yellow card collection and will put him on the bench for this match. The latter must learn.

Up the Boro! 


lenmasterman
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And maybe Ravanelli has by now managed to scrape together enough money to pay back to the club all of the unpaid milk, gas and electricity bills he left behind him when he departed the club.

As well as an apology to every Boro fan for declaring himself fit for the Cup Final before limping off in the first half.


Original Fat Bob
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Len

What was also discovered apparently when he left that all the light fittings had been cut of leaving bar wires hanging off the ceiling !

All fittings had to be replaced !

OFB


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lenmasterman
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That's right Bob.

The infamous Cup Final was the scene of a famous fight on the morning of the game when Neil Cox, who had declared himself unfit criticised Rav for declaring himself fit to play when he clearly wasn't.

Rav's response was to go wading in with his fists, but Cox's point was proved when Rav lasted barely 15 minutes before limping off. Cox always cited this as an example of someone who always put his own interests ahead of those of the team.

I see in the latest report that Rav would look forward to having lunch with Steve Gibson this week-end. Well he would wouldn't he?

If that happens Steve would be well advised to count the spoons.


jarkko
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Now we know why Ravanelli has not been back to Teesside before tomorrow 😟. UTB! 


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Ken Smith
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Like everyone else I hope that this isn’t OFB’s last prologue for the season. I know from experience how time-consuming it is to write statistics about our beloved team; it’s not just writing a blog, but also the research that he, Andy R and previously Werdermouth and Redcar Red have/had to do to present a well-written blog, which I’m sure all diasborians appreciate.

I once wrote after relegation that any club that finished above Stoke City would be assured of promotion and even suggested that both Boro and the Potters would reach near the 100 points mark to gain promotion. Well I got that wrong, didn’t I? But if any team that has underperformed more than Boro, it has to be Stoke City. There have been some signs of recovery for the Potters this season especially on the road, but their home form has often let them down. This season is a prime example of that. When they were in the Premiership under Tony Pullis no team enjoyed playing at what was then known as the Britannia Stadium, arguably the coldest football stadium in England. Therefore it’s somewhat surprising that their home form hasn’t lived up to those levels since. Nevertheless be aware that they are a difficult side to beat away from home.

Tonight will tell us a lot about Sheffield United who occupy that coveted 6th place at the moment. Their manager Paul Hecklingbottom stlll has 9 players in his squad that Chris Wilder had when they beat Leeds United in their promotion playoff side that won promotion a couple of years ago including the amazing Billy Sharp who even at the age of 36 has already scored 15 goals this season. However the Blades haven’t recorded back to back wins since February, so a draw tonight would certainly help Boro in their quest for a playoff place but only if Boro win tomorrow. 

For what it’s worth worth despite QPR’s recent slump I think that tonight’s fixture will end all square leaving Boro’s fate once more in their own destiny, but Boro will have to play a lot better tomorrow than they did on Wednesday to take the spoils against Stoke. 

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Ken Smith

werdermouth
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So it's the penultimate weekend of the Championship where everything is still to play for in deciding who will end up in the play-offs - with Bournemouth probably the only club who don't want to be in them!

Many thanks to OFB for a perfect preview pondering the prospects of another three points to take our hopes into the final weekend - let's hope the return to winning ways over Cardiff wasn't a one-hit wonder like Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

Although Stoke have nothing left to play for other than being top of the mid-table obscurity mini-league, it will likely be a tougher game than Cardiff given their current form is pretty decent with four wins out of the last six.

Interestingly, Stoke were up in fourth spot after 18 games when Chris Wilder took over at Boro but that was their peak as they subsequently dropped down the table. Indeed, the four clubs in those play-off positions back then were West Brom, Stoke, Coventry and QPR - all of whom followed the Potters down the table and now occupy positions 10-13.

Whether QPR can do us a favour tonight and take points off Sheff Utd is another big question of the weekend - perhaps the Hoops players will want to give Mark Warburton a happy send-off in his final home game after it was announced he'll be leaving in the summer. If they do I and many others will be joining the Loftus Road (sorry the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium) faithful in clapping them round their lap of honour.

As for Boro, well all they can do is try to win each game as it comes and make sure they keep their end of the bargain. It would be typical of Boro to fail to win tomorrow if QPR beat the Blades - but let's not go there just yet!

If Fry is fit then I expect he will play as Sol Bamba may need a breather but so far he hasn't let the team down and has been in good form. The question of whether Crooks returns may depend on how lively he looks in training - but I agree with Andy in that Bola should make way with Tav moving to left wing-back. Though the counter argument would be having a midfield option on the bench wouldn't be a bad thing if Boro need to give Stoke something else to think about.

As for strikers, I'd go Watmore and Sporar as they both can also create openings - besides Balogun's first touch wasn't great in midweek and Connolly has really run out road in a bid to impress - though perhaps Coburn's directness and physicality could be deployed at some point.

Prediction: No point as Boro must win and if Sheff Utd draw then we'll need a two or three goal margin to move into sixth ahead of game 46.

 

 

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by werdermouth

Philip of Huddersfield
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All eyes will be on QPR v Sheffield United tonight. QPR are out of the running for 6th place and their form is not good and so I expect Sheffield to outmuscle them and win.

This would need Boro to win tomorrow to take the interest to the last game.

Clearly Sheffield are in the box seat and , in all probability, will only require a draw and a win in their last 2 games to seal 6 th position.

So , we can only hope results go Boro’s way - starting with a win tomorrow.

Philip of Huddersfield 


K P in Spain
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Thanks OFB for another excellent opener and I too hope this is not your last of the season.

I am in the Crooks "in" camp but to accommodate him it means moving Tav to wingback in place of Bola, as McGree has to start given his last two performances.

As you mentioned, Bola has not been at his best this season and I do wonder if his position in the team is at risk next season.

Having said all that I am not sure that CW will make many changes tomorrow and I can see Crooks on the bench, Fry in for Bamba and perm any two from four up front.

A tight and tense game again I suspect but hope we can shade it to give us another three points which we will need as I think Sheffield will win at QPR tonight.😎

  


John Richardson
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OFB,

Thank you for a fine and incisive opener.

As always good old Boro present us with conundrums and enigmas. Which one will turn up? Will Boro tear into them establish superiority and get a couple of goals before half time or will they slide back to passing back and windscreen wipering the opposition?

3-0, wow, you must have varnished the foam hands to keep them together for another game as well as a secondary source of fumes!

I think that with Boro it will be, as always, close because of the way chances are spurned and snatched at. So, a bum clenching 2-1 to Boro for me and probably 2-1 at half time too, just to ratchet up the tension and boost the collective blood pressure and heart rates in the Riverside.

The Fat Lady must be gargling in the bathroom.

UTB,

John

PS Forgot to say, how many times will Boro hit the woodwork?

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by John Richardson

Original Fat Bob
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All this talk about Bola and Tav made me wonder, what’s happened to Taylor?

 

OFB


Liked by 4 people: Andy R, K P in Spain, Powmill-Naemore and Malcolm
 
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Plato
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It seems strange to me that we would play a player who has not had us out of our seats once this season. Quite the opposite, has never been a regular, and does not belong to us, and will certainly not be joining us on a permanent basis. Far more interesting would be playing the kid as striker, we could then try High balls into the middle, or forward passes from midfield into his path for a run and shot at goal.


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PaulInBoro
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If Rav is at the Riverside can we ask him to play upfront, let's face it he can't be any worse than the current shower.


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Philip of Huddersfield
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I see that the press report on QPR is quoting the manager, who it was announced yesterday was leaving after the final game, states that the number of injuries is unprecedented. 
Apparently 6 first teamers  are missing tonight plus a further player is having a late fitness test.

With the announcement about the manager, all these injuries plus they have something like one win in the last ten games it’s beautifully set up for a Sheffield win.

But football was never straight forward…………….!!
Philip of Huddersfield 

 

rst


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exmil
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Thanks OFB for a great opener and I see Stoke are bringing 850 supporters for a “dead rubber” which isn’t bad, although I have found in the past Stoke supporters to be very volatile and trouble.

Come on BORO.


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werdermouth
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Posted by: @philip-of-huddersfield

With the announcement about the manager, all these injuries plus they have something like one win in the last ten games it’s beautifully set up for a Sheffield win.

Don't forget Sheff Utd have failed to win any of their last six away from home!

Here's a scenario going into the last game...

Sheff Utd draw with QPR - 70 pts - goal diff +12

Boro beat Stoke by 2 goals - 70 pts - goal diff +12

Luton lose against Fulham by 2 goals - 72 pts - goal diff +12

All to play for in the last game with all three teams then needing to win their last game (i.e. Luton would lose out on goal difference if they drew and Boro and Sheff Utd won)


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Martin Bellamy
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An assist by Uncle Albert and QPR lead 1-0 at HT. 


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Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @martin-bellamy

An assist by Uncle Albert and QPR lead 1-0 at HT. 

I am barely breathing following the feed on bbc website


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Original Fat Bob
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Tomorrow 30/4/22 is the 27th Anniversary of the last game played at Ayresome Park in 1995 v Luton with a crucial victory.

Lets hope Boro repeat the result against Stoke tomorrow.

OFB


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Original Fat Bob
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That’s torn it !

1-2 !


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Malcolm
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1-3 so where does that leave Boro etc


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Powmill-Naemore
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Well. A mathematical miracle asides  that about puts the lid on it for us this year. 😥


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werdermouth
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Unfortunately QPR were Hoopless in holding onto their lead - Sheff Utd players were celebrating after the game like they'd just won promotion.

Anyway, Boro just need to keep their nerve and try to win tomorrow and that will keep them in with a shout on the last day - don't forget Sheff Utd are playing Fulham - who can also help matters by beating Luton on Monday.


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