Discussion Forum

Playoff Semi-Final ...
 

Playoff Semi-Final 2nd Leg Boro v Coventry

160 Posts
27 Users
977 Reactions
2,770 Views
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2718
Topic starter  

Playoff Semi-Final, 2nd Leg

              Championship

             Boro v Coventry

           Riverside Stadium

Wednesday 17th May2023

       K.O. 20:00 Hours

 

I’m not sure that some of us know what the meaning of Groundhog Day is?

 

No? Quite simply it is a situation in which events that have happened before, happen again, and again and again, in what seems to be exactly the same way! Apparently the film with the same name is a comic parable of love, hope and transformation.

 

Groundhog Day for the Boro is when we will play Coventry City again, for the third time in a short period. Waking up on a morning and realising that the team we have to play that day is Coventry City! Does that sound familiar? Nearly all the same players, same tactics? The same coaching staff and managers. Ah but what result will this match see on Wednesday?

 

For this game, the last of the Boro games against Coventry will it be a win? Or will this game be a draw, which then goes on to extra time and penalties? Oh please not a defeat! That would be too hard to bear…

 

Of course for the Boro to carry out the Groundhog Day parable of love, hope and transformation we have to take note of this. All of us, the fans in the stadium, those who can’t get a ticket, those who live away in this country and overseas. Let’s not forget all of us on this blog, we LOVE our Boro team. We all HOPE that they will win on Wednesday.  To see Boro go on to complete our TRANSFORMATION at the playoff final at Wembley into a Premiership football club once more.

 

The club are on the cusp of greatness and a £100 million  cash rich reward. It’s not just the reward financially, but the joy of competing at the highest level and proving that our players can hold their own against the best of the best. Obtaining individual International honours and recognition and having the ability to attract better players to promulgate the growth which we have lost over the past few years  lingering in the Championship doldrums.

 

Failure to win the game on Wednesday and obviously not to play the final match at Wembley, will inevitably result in the loss of key players who are coveted by other clubs. Akpom and Hackney would probably be  packing up their boots and leaving to join Premiership clubs.

 

Our loan players would also be  sadly leaving us, whilst shaking their heads at what could have been their future professional careers with Boro and returning to their parent clubs. No  funds would be made available to turn the loan deals for the players who have performed so magnificently for Boro into permanent signings. Boro would have to sign new loan players and integrate them into the Boro tactics and start the process of fighting for promotion all over again.

 

Even the future of our manager would probably be one of uncertainty as Premiership clubs circle, as they have admired his calm, stoic managerial and coaching skills this season. They have given whispers to the press that they covet his services and make sly comments of his past association with them.

 

Let’s be of no doubt that this is a real chance, a real opportunity for Boro this season to get promotion. Next season with three cash rich clubs being relegated and other clubs in the championship still receiving top up money from their stint in the Premiership it’s going to be a difficult time to get promoted! We have to go for it now and go all out for it.

 

The game on Wednesday will probably be based on the same formations and tactics as the game on Sunday, but hopefully with a winning result for Boro.

 

It was interesting to see that Ramsey has returned from Aston Villa where he was receiving medical treatment and was at with the Boro players who were not part of the playing squad on Sunday. Others included Jonny Howson and it’s possible that both of those players could feature in part on Wednesday evening.

 

Other changes could see Jones revert to the bench from the start and Forss take up his place on the right hand side where his inclusion adds to the goalscoring opportunities of the Middlesbrough team. I like Jones and sometimes he does make the wrong decision but as the game on Sunday showed he does present a threat. Personally I think the referee bottled it in front of the Coventry crowd and should have awarded Boro a penalty for a tackle on Jones in the first half.

 

Hackney is a much better player with Howson near him and it’s obvious that he misses his presence. Not so much a father figure as one of an elder brother.

 

Mowatt played his best game for Boro on Sunday and is a tough tackling midfield player but does not appear to possess the silky passing skills of Howson for the forward killer pass.

 

After the game Michael Carrick explained that Aaron Ramsey and Jonny Howson travelled to Coventry City with the Boro team because the nature of the game called for the whole squad to be together, However, it was not a sign either are close to a return to action, Carrick confirmed. Personally I don’t believe him and we will find out on Wednesday the truth!

 

Archer was very quiet on Sunday and I expect him to have more goal scoring opportunities on Wednesday evening. The key to this is the possibility of two key changes. One the inclusion of Ramsey and two, the tactical change of Giles being told to get forward more and deliver those killer crosses into the box.

 

Why was Giles so withdrawn against Coventry on Sunday? Coventry have a player called Brooke Norton-Cuffy on loan from Arsenal. Whilst classed as a defender part of the Coventry tactics is to use his driving runs as an attacking threat down the wing. This was obviously identified by the Boro coaching team and Giles was playing in a more defensive position and style which affected the goalscoring opportunities of Archer.

 

Mark Robins the Coventry Manager has expressed concerns about the fitness of City man Gustavo Hamer ahead of Wednesday night’s make-or-break play-off semi-final second leg at Boro. The Coventry manager admits he “doesn’t know” if Hamer will be OK for the trip so it looks like both managers are being coy about fitness of players.

 

Boro played two similar free kicks in the second half on Sunday which were in the opposing half. Both free kicks involved Mowatt and Hackney and resulted in the ball being passed back to our goalkeeper Steffen. Why Boro did this I can only think that they were under instructions not to leave the midfield open to a quick counter attack and just play it safe. A very frustrating tactic though!

 

Boro dominated the ball in the opening half an hour, enjoying 67 percent of the possession with Coventry not managing a single attempt on goal in a game where chances were few and far between for both sides. However, Liam Kelly and Gus Hamer hit City’s first shots shortly after, albeit the first blocked and the second going wide as the home side grew into the game, with the fans knowing there was still a lot more to come from their team in the second half.

 

City gave a better account of themselves in the second half but still struggled to test Steffen, enjoying ten attempts by the 70 minute mark but not a single effort on target. They kept pushing amid four minutes of stoppage time but had to settle for a clean sheet as the two-legged tie remains wide open ahead of Wednesday night's second leg in Teesside.

 

The reason for the lack of shots on goal has to be attributed to the central defensive pairing of McNair and Lenihan. Whilst I have been critical of Paddy this season you could see that he was totally focused on making sure that Gyokeres hardly saw the ball in the opening 20 minutes as Boro dominated possession, taking the game to the Sky Blues in their own half. A hard working but frustrating first half for the star striker. He to life more after the break when he had a shot blocked. Overall he was a threat but well marshalled by Boro’s centre-backs.

 

Steffen didn’t have a lot to do but he still makes me nervous when playing pass ball with his defenders.

 

All in all a decent performance by Boro with over 60% possession and the introduction of one of our injured players back into the team (Forss).

 

Finally a word from the 53-year-old Coventry manager Mark Robins who has heaped the pressure on Boro ahead of the midweek meeting, claiming that they are now favourites.

 

Quote

 

"We will look at it again, the third time we will play them in just over a week, on Wednesday, but we are in it and that’s the big thing," Robins said.

"I said to the players in there ‘we are in it’ and we’ve still got a chance and this is how you’ve got to work to get to a Wembley final anyway. But they (Boro) are the favourites now and rightly so. I think they are favourites to win it anyway. They have a good squad of players, their bench has obviously got stronger today, and potentially gets stronger, or the team gets stronger, on Wednesday (with players coming back from injury)."We know it’s tough but we are in there shouting but let’s see how we recover. It’s a big thing for us to recover, recover right, and we will endeavour to do that and go again on Wednesday. It is a decent position to be in going into the game on Wednesday.”

 

Unquote

 

So what do we think?

 

Me?

Me?

Me?

 

Sorry just practising my vocal scales 🎶

 

Me? I’m going for Middlesbrough3 Coventry 1

 

Boro are back !

 

OFB


Selwynoz
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 773
 

Am I the only one who thinks that Akpom was very hard done by in being given a yellow card for a tackle when he took the ball. Can I also ask whether there are any special rules for yellow cards in the play-offs. For example, what happens if Akpom is also booked in the second semi-final. Is there any risk of suspension and, if so, should we have appealed against his card.

UTB


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2718
Topic starter  

@selwynoz 

I was actually quite incensed at the incorrect decision (In my opinion) for the referee to book Akpom.

Akpom kept both of his feet on the ground and made no attempt to make a foul. 

On the other hand the Coventry player appeared to jump up and forwards with both of his feet together in an exaggerated fashion. 

Poor decision!

As far as I’m aware there would be no totting up of cautions to prevent Akpom playing other games but he must keep his short on when he scores the winner on Wednesday !

OFB


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2341
 

@original-fat-bob. “must keep his short on when he scores the winner on Wednesday !”  

And his shirt! 😂😂😎


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2341
 

Brilliant opener OFB which clearly spells out what this game means for the club, players and supporters; a must win game followed by one more. 

I haven’t seen the match but from the reports and comments it appears that we were very solid and posed a far greater threat than Coventry and those fine margins just did not go our way.  

The main point, as made by Len before the match, is that we have left ourselves well and truly in the tie and if we play with the same solidity and stick to what has worked for us since MC arrived then we will triumph.

I just hope we don’t go to extra time or the dreaded penalties; score first and your prediction may well be correct.  

So far my Exmil challenge predictions have been wrong.  I predicted 1-1 for Wednesday but that clearly isn’t going to be the final score so I will be content with 1-0 and hopefully Chuba keeping both his shirt and shorts on! CoB 😎


Pedro de Espana
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1190
 

Absolute brilliant Headliner OFB. Well written and informative.

Generally I thought the referee had a decent game. However, I thought that the foul was on Akpom!!!  I assume his yellow will only count in the totting up process? I do not think you can appeal against a yellow, only a red card.

Saying all the above, Coventry did well not to receive any bookings, very lucky. They were quite aggressive at times, similar to our final home. Robins complained about McGree fouling Hamer, the replay shows he did not touch him. Also if it was that bad, he would not have continued playing. 

All this talk from Robins is just smoke and mirrors. Let us hope the referee on Wednesday it is not as lenient with the Coventry tackles.


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 657
 

Another excellent Opener From Bob.

Sadly for me, I have a long-standing engagement on Wednesday evening and will need to have alerts switched off. Not sure when it will be over but probably not before the end of normal time. 

I feel reasonably confident that we'll get through; I reckon it's probably 70/30 in our favour.

I would like to see Howson back. Mowatt did excellently but Howson and Hackney do work better together. 

I'm a little wary about Jones. He has pace and directness but he always feels like the player who is most likely to lose the ball cheaply. Smith and Forss play well together as do Dijksteel and Jones but Smith and Jones (alas) don't seem to have any sort of understanding. 

I would be a bag of nerves watching it so maybe missing it is a kindness.


Powmill-Naemore
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1367
 

Great summary of the last game and a little look forward to the next game. Thank you OFB.

I disagree about the Jones penalty that wasn't. For me the challenge was outside the box. That said, Jones was well and truly pulled to the ground by his shirt. Definitely a free kick in a awkward position, but not a penalty to me. 

I would love to see the graphic with the straight line at the precise moment Apkom touches the ball as he played it through for Jones. Very close indeed and to my failing eyes Jones was level, not offside.

And as for Apkom getting booked, I thought the Coventry lad was going to get a card. It was a perfectly timed tackle  by Chuba. Still, it will be our  crowd  influencing the decisions on Wednesday. I think they have players that push the limits of what are fair challenges, and they will be out to play that aggressive press again. So, some early yellow cards will be welcome to make them back off a little.

We are too good not to beat Coventry. After two draws and a 1-0 reverse this season, I think we just might see Middlebrough3 on Wednesday to properly reflect the difference between these two sides.

CoB... and while we are at it, come on you hatters 😉

This post was modified 1 year ago by Powmill-Naemore

Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2341
 

@powmillnaemore. “CoB... and while we are at it, come on you hatters”.   Seconded. 😎


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2718
Topic starter  

@k-p-in-spain 

I must admit that whilst watching TV Newcastle (on both channels TTTV BBC NE) it was the same old story. Newcastle first on sports headlines, long story on Sunderland and 30 seconds on the Boro.

We have to win on Wednesday and win the final and get promotion to at least try and get some recognition in the media.

Rant over 😡

OFB


jarkko
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2286
 

Posted by: @k-p-in-spain

@original-fat-bob. “must keep his short on when he scores the winner on Wednesday !”  

And his shirt! 😂😂😎

I think if you take off your shirt it is a yellow. But for taking off your shorts, you deserve a red. It looks so bad ...

About the yellow Akpom got on Sunday, the replay showed he got to the ball first and as OFB said, he kept both of his feet on the ground. So was it a foul at all?

Perhaps he got the yellow for argueing against the given free kick (and not the tackle itself)?

Anyway, the Groundhog themed starter was brilliant. One of your bests, Keep-Fit Bob (or however you are called nowadays). Up the Boro! 

 

This post was modified 1 year ago by jarkko

Ken Smith
Mr
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2132
 

In my opinion Boro must attack and score early. That’s what I found so boring yesterday, that Boro especially in the second half didn’t go for the jugular. I can’t agree with Boro’s tactics in either of the two matches against Coventry. I had a fall on Friday and in as much pain as I can ever recall, with nurses calling 3 times everyday but trying to get me on the road for some sort of recovery, so maybe feeling disappointed in Boro’s performance.

Today’s article by OFB is so true. If Boro are so much better than Coventry why did they not take the opportunity to defeat them in the last two matches - probably the fear of conceding the first goal. Yet that’s often what has happened frequently this season. If by some chance Boro get promoted this season, then Boro wouldn’t wish to concede the first goal in the Premier League, but if Boro are as good as most fans believe let’s not be too concerned about their opponents in the playoffs.

 Boro will need to play a lot much better to win on Wednesday as they seem to have lost their way lately. I’m not at all confident that Boro will win on Wednesday on current form. Will a successful penalty shootout be needed to overcome Coventry this week?  It was Albert Einstein who said that making the same mistakes and expecting different results was insane. Let’s hope that Boro have learned their lesson!


   
ReplyQuote
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2341
 

@original-fat-bob.  Call me old and cynical if you like (I am old and cynical at times!) but if we were to win the final I still suspect we would have the least coverage; same as it ever was! 🤬😎


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2341
 

@ken.  Sorry to hear about the fall and hopefully the nurses are getting you on the road to recovery.

I can understand your viewpoint on Boro’s two performances against Coventry but it takes two to tango and Coventry have hardly covered themselves in glory with their tactics.

On Sunday they did not have a shot on goal, we are at least pressing and trying to win the game with passing football as opposed to pinching it from a breakaway.  

I think you need to give Boro some slack and as you say your judgement may have been impacted by the fall; take care and all the best to you and the Boro on Wednesday. 😎


Clive Hurren
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 637
 

Very sorry to hear about your fall, Ken. I hope it’s not limiting your movement much or giving you pain. 

I think it will be a close game on Wednesday, possibly first goal the winner. If Coventry score it, heaven forbid, I think they’ll park the bus and shut up shop. we know how strong they are defensively. But if we score first, they’ll have to come out more, which might give us more chance to get a second. Everything crossed, even my toes. 🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞

 


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1298
 

Unfortunately family commitments meant I could only watch the first half live. I then spent most of the second half discreetly checking my phone for updates at every opportunity.

What I saw in that first 45, I was very impressed with. To me, this was a Boro who were very much back at it, passing and moving and controlling the game, asking questions of Coventry whilst keeping them at arm's length. It might sound strange to say it after a near 30-goal season for Akpom, but I just wished that that big chance had fallen to Archer.

I thought McNair was magnificent and it sounds and reads like he continued that throughout the second half too. Fair play to Paddy - are we finally seeing the emergence of a top Championship player after several seasons of so-so performances in the main? Perhaps he has now accepted that centre-back is his position, put thoughts of midfield behind him and focused on the second half of his career. Perhaps having the vocal Lenihan alongside has brought the best from him. Perhaps a run of games in that role has helped and perhaps his almost man-marking job on the dangerous Gyokeres has focused the mind. Whatever it is, he was very good on the last day of the regular season and seems to have been even better yesterday.

Mowatt also did pretty well in my opinion. He hasn't got Howson's forward passing in him with the same consistency and, despite the age gap, Howson seems to get around the pitch a little better but, in a disciplined defensive role, I thought Mowatt looked very reliable in the first half, continuing his end-of-season renaissance. A good option to have after a season on the bench.

Also praise for Giles. There's a player who we thought couldn't defend but perhaps yesterday showed that it's more about tactics and positioning than ability. Clearly tasked with a more traditional left-back role yesterday, he did a very good job of it and he and the double-barrelled Coventry wingback had a sort of stand-off down that flank - both extremely keen not to let the other get the better of them.

Lenihan is perhaps the most undervalued player in the regular XI, rarely getting the headlines given the goals scored and conceded but he is an excellent asset to have at this level. Put him in Coventry's side and it would be a much more difficult task on Wednesday.

I haven't felt any of the nerves other posters have detailed so far this season - just winning games and being in the playoffs has been such an enjoyable bonus for me. However, whilst I'm fairly confident about Wednesday and still firmly believe us to be the better side, I must admit that the nerves are just starting to jangle. It would be such a shame to miss out now.

We'll dominate the ball again and look the classier side I'm sure. My nervousness, really, is if we concede first, which will fit Coventry's gameplan to a tee. Even at home they were setup to sit in and counter and I don't see that changing. If they get an early goal we'll have to remain calm and keep trusting our process, not overcommit and end up conceding a potentially fatal second.

Equally however, if we score first, that blows their plan out of the water and if they get panicky we could add two or three more. I prefer that scenario.

Wednesday can't come soon enough.

Many thanks for the opener Bob. Let's hope it's not the last of the season.


Philip of Huddersfield
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 460
 

So we move on to consecutive game number 3 v Coventry. From all accounts the first play off game was very average but I’m happy with a draw.
I expect the second game to be very tight with both teams not playing brilliant football. These are , after all, the playoff games which are usually very close low scoring games. The objective is to win the game. How a team achieves it is really irrelevant. I’d be delighted if Boro achieve a win in a scrappy boring game than to narrowly lose out in an exciting game played to an exceptional high level.

It seems to me that MC’s tactics should be to take control from the first minute and try to get the first goal and to be ahead at half time. The worst thing will be to be level with  say 15- 20 minutes left when both teams are likely to become nervous and then anything can happen.

On the other hand, I expect Coventry to be happy to absorb Boro pressure early in the game in the hope that they’ll catch Boro on the break.Perhaps the game will come down to the team which makes the fewest mistakes and keeps its nerve .

On a personal level, I’m cruising up the Rhine ( or is it down the Rhine?) with no access to sky sports and dodgy Wi-Fi connection and may even not find out the result until Thursday.   The tension is getting to me already!!
Philip from Huddersfield 👍👋


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1358
 

Thanks to OFB, for another excellent opener containing a very good account of Sunday’s fixture (are you Redcar Red in disguise 😂) also a well presented build up to the second leg.

Come on BORO.


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1358
 

EXMIL CHALLENGE 2023 - Semi Finals - Halftime Scores:

jarkko (4+5=9) + (3+3=6) = 15 v KP in Spain (5+4=9) + (3+4=7) = 16 

Norfolk and Boro (5+5=10) + (3+3=6) = 16 v Andy R (4+5=9) + (3+4=7) = 16 

Scores in the second leg apply to the final score at the end of the game (including extra time) but not penalty shootouts.

Very tight semifinals (as the genuine matches are) good luck in the second legs, especially the Boro. 

Come on BORO.

 


   
ReplyQuote
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1219
 

Well done again, Old Feather Brain. I hope that the next Starter For Ten you write will be in readiness for Boro v Manchester City in 3 months time.

And I know that Si LOVES Groundhog Day.

I wonder how many 2023/24 season tickets we have sold at this stage.

This post was modified 1 year ago by Forever Dormo

Pedro de Espana
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1190
 

@forever-dormo   At the end of the “Early Bird Period”   there had been 19000 tickets sold. That was 4000 upon last season and the best EBP since we were in the EPL six years ago.


   
ReplyQuote
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 681
 

Old Fit Bob,

Great stuff as always, a compelling read to say the least. No forecasts from me for Wednesday, I don't want to put the hex, pox or mockers on Boro in any way so predictions are out.

Ken, really sorry to har about your tumble, just take care and look after yourself with a little extra care. I have no doubt that the nurses will do a great job for you.

I fell last week with a red card tackle from behind from my Jack Russell. She took me out, playing the man, by piling into the back of my knees and folded me up completely. She's obviously been reading about Brian Philips and Dickie Rooks. I certainly didn't see it coming. For sure my dignity was badly bruised though.

All the best to everyone,

UTB,

John


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 772
 

Thoroughly enjoyed the game on Sunday and thought it an absorbing encounter and a tactical master class from Carrick and his coaching staff impeccably carried out by the players.

The overwhelming view among the fans in the Gazette last week was that we should 'play our normal game' and continue with the approach 'that has got us where we are'. Our defence may be leaky, but that is the price we have to pay for our attacking approach.

Carrick took the opposite view, and set out to keep a clean sheet by playing a back four covered by two defensive midfielders and strikers defending from the front

That he succeeded was some achievement given the fact that hitherto we had one of the worst defensive records in the Championship, shipping only two fewer goals than Cardiff, who barely escaped relegation, and nine less than Wigan who finished bottom.

There were two features of the performance that were unique in my long experience of supporting the Boro.

The first was that we not merely kept a clean sheet, but that our keeper did not have a single shot to save. That was not only a major turn around from our record throughout the season but something we have never achieved before in such an important two-leg away match.

The second is that we achieved our clean sheet as visitors not by parking the bus and defending with our lives, but by dominating possession, controlling the ball and pushing Coventry back, attenuating the spaces between their midfield and strikers.

Ken may wish to correct me, but I do not recall the Boro ever having done that before because we have never had a side well enough coached to be able to do it.

Particularly encouraging is that, if we are promoted, it can provide a template for our difficult away games next season against the Premier League elite teams. Up until this point all I could envisage was our being torn apart given our defensive frailties against even the most modest Championship opposition.

So a great first leg result and a hair's breadth from being a 0-1or 0-2 win.

The tie is still ours to lose, but we played well, the "momentum" worries proved to be groundless and we have given ourselves the best possible chance of another Wembley appearance. I am confident that we can and will finish the job on Wednesday. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post was modified 1 year ago by lenmasterman

Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2718
Topic starter  

@lenmasterman 

Great Post Len very astute and thought provoking. 

I must admit I have never witnessed a defensive performance like that on Sunday without parking the bus 🚌!

Every player knew his role and carried it out to the letter. A master class in tactical strategy.

Lets hope we can go one better on Wednesday.

I shall be there I might even have a couple of beers beforehand with my grandsons (why not?) it’s not every day you get to a play off promotion semi-final is it?

Come on Boro !

OFB


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 958
 

Posted by: @original-fat-bob

Playoff Semi-Final, 2nd Leg

              Championship

             Boro v Coventry

           Riverside Stadium

Wednesday 17th May2023

       K.O. 20:00 Hours

 

I’m not sure that some of us know what the meaning of Groundhog Day is?

 

No? Quite simply it is a situation in which events that have happened before, happen again, and again and again, in what seems to be exactly the same way! Apparently the film with the same name is a comic parable of love, hope and transformation.

 

Groundhog Day for the Boro is when we will play Coventry City again, for the third time in a short period. Waking up on a morning and realising that the team we have to play that day is Coventry City! Does that sound familiar? Nearly all the same players, same tactics? The same coaching staff and managers. Ah but what result will this match see on Wednesday?

 

For this game, the last of the Boro games against Coventry will it be a win? Or will this game be a draw, which then goes on to extra time and penalties? Oh please not a defeat! That would be too hard to bear…

 

Of course for the Boro to carry out the Groundhog Day parable of love, hope and transformation we have to take note of this. All of us, the fans in the stadium, those who can’t get a ticket, those who live away in this country and overseas. Let’s not forget all of us on this blog, we LOVE our Boro team. We all HOPE that they will win on Wednesday.  To see Boro go on to complete our TRANSFORMATION at the playoff final at Wembley into a Premiership football club once more.

 

The club are on the cusp of greatness and a £100 million  cash rich reward. It’s not just the reward financially, but the joy of competing at the highest level and proving that our players can hold their own against the best of the best. Obtaining individual International honours and recognition and having the ability to attract better players to promulgate the growth which we have lost over the past few years  lingering in the Championship doldrums.

 

Failure to win the game on Wednesday and obviously not to play the final match at Wembley, will inevitably result in the loss of key players who are coveted by other clubs. Akpom and Hackney would probably be  packing up their boots and leaving to join Premiership clubs.

 

Our loan players would also be  sadly leaving us, whilst shaking their heads at what could have been their future professional careers with Boro and returning to their parent clubs. No  funds would be made available to turn the loan deals for the players who have performed so magnificently for Boro into permanent signings. Boro would have to sign new loan players and integrate them into the Boro tactics and start the process of fighting for promotion all over again.

 

Even the future of our manager would probably be one of uncertainty as Premiership clubs circle, as they have admired his calm, stoic managerial and coaching skills this season. They have given whispers to the press that they covet his services and make sly comments of his past association with them.

 

Let’s be of no doubt that this is a real chance, a real opportunity for Boro this season to get promotion. Next season with three cash rich clubs being relegated and other clubs in the championship still receiving top up money from their stint in the Premiership it’s going to be a difficult time to get promoted! We have to go for it now and go all out for it.

 

The game on Wednesday will probably be based on the same formations and tactics as the game on Sunday, but hopefully with a winning result for Boro.

 

It was interesting to see that Ramsey has returned from Aston Villa where he was receiving medical treatment and was at with the Boro players who were not part of the playing squad on Sunday. Others included Jonny Howson and it’s possible that both of those players could feature in part on Wednesday evening.

 

Other changes could see Jones revert to the bench from the start and Forss take up his place on the right hand side where his inclusion adds to the goalscoring opportunities of the Middlesbrough team. I like Jones and sometimes he does make the wrong decision but as the game on Sunday showed he does present a threat. Personally I think the referee bottled it in front of the Coventry crowd and should have awarded Boro a penalty for a tackle on Jones in the first half.

 

Hackney is a much better player with Howson near him and it’s obvious that he misses his presence. Not so much a father figure as one of an elder brother.

 

Mowatt played his best game for Boro on Sunday and is a tough tackling midfield player but does not appear to possess the silky passing skills of Howson for the forward killer pass.

 

After the game Michael Carrick explained that Aaron Ramsey and Jonny Howson travelled to Coventry City with the Boro team because the nature of the game called for the whole squad to be together, However, it was not a sign either are close to a return to action, Carrick confirmed. Personally I don’t believe him and we will find out on Wednesday the truth!

 

Archer was very quiet on Sunday and I expect him to have more goal scoring opportunities on Wednesday evening. The key to this is the possibility of two key changes. One the inclusion of Ramsey and two, the tactical change of Giles being told to get forward more and deliver those killer crosses into the box.

 

Why was Giles so withdrawn against Coventry on Sunday? Coventry have a player called Brooke Norton-Cuffy on loan from Arsenal. Whilst classed as a defender part of the Coventry tactics is to use his driving runs as an attacking threat down the wing. This was obviously identified by the Boro coaching team and Giles was playing in a more defensive position and style which affected the goalscoring opportunities of Archer.

 

Mark Robins the Coventry Manager has expressed concerns about the fitness of City man Gustavo Hamer ahead of Wednesday night’s make-or-break play-off semi-final second leg at Boro. The Coventry manager admits he “doesn’t know” if Hamer will be OK for the trip so it looks like both managers are being coy about fitness of players.

 

Boro played two similar free kicks in the second half on Sunday which were in the opposing half. Both free kicks involved Mowatt and Hackney and resulted in the ball being passed back to our goalkeeper Steffen. Why Boro did this I can only think that they were under instructions not to leave the midfield open to a quick counter attack and just play it safe. A very frustrating tactic though!

 

Boro dominated the ball in the opening half an hour, enjoying 67 percent of the possession with Coventry not managing a single attempt on goal in a game where chances were few and far between for both sides. However, Liam Kelly and Gus Hamer hit City’s first shots shortly after, albeit the first blocked and the second going wide as the home side grew into the game, with the fans knowing there was still a lot more to come from their team in the second half.

 

City gave a better account of themselves in the second half but still struggled to test Steffen, enjoying ten attempts by the 70 minute mark but not a single effort on target. They kept pushing amid four minutes of stoppage time but had to settle for a clean sheet as the two-legged tie remains wide open ahead of Wednesday night's second leg in Teesside.

 

The reason for the lack of shots on goal has to be attributed to the central defensive pairing of McNair and Lenihan. Whilst I have been critical of Paddy this season you could see that he was totally focused on making sure that Gyokeres hardly saw the ball in the opening 20 minutes as Boro dominated possession, taking the game to the Sky Blues in their own half. A hard working but frustrating first half for the star striker. He to life more after the break when he had a shot blocked. Overall he was a threat but well marshalled by Boro’s centre-backs.

 

Steffen didn’t have a lot to do but he still makes me nervous when playing pass ball with his defenders.

 

All in all a decent performance by Boro with over 60% possession and the introduction of one of our injured players back into the team (Forss).

 

Finally a word from the 53-year-old Coventry manager Mark Robins who has heaped the pressure on Boro ahead of the midweek meeting, claiming that they are now favourites.

 

Quote

 

"We will look at it again, the third time we will play them in just over a week, on Wednesday, but we are in it and that’s the big thing," Robins said.

"I said to the players in there ‘we are in it’ and we’ve still got a chance and this is how you’ve got to work to get to a Wembley final anyway. But they (Boro) are the favourites now and rightly so. I think they are favourites to win it anyway. They have a good squad of players, their bench has obviously got stronger today, and potentially gets stronger, or the team gets stronger, on Wednesday (with players coming back from injury)."We know it’s tough but we are in there shouting but let’s see how we recover. It’s a big thing for us to recover, recover right, and we will endeavour to do that and go again on Wednesday. It is a decent position to be in going into the game on Wednesday.”

 

Unquote

 

So what do we think?

 

Me?

Me?

Me?

 

Sorry just practising my vocal scales 🎶

 

Me? I’m going for Middlesbrough3 Coventry 1

 

Boro are back !

 

OFB

 


   
ReplyQuote
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 958
 

Brilliant OFB


Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 958
 

David Coote will be the man in the middle for Wednesday's Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg meeting with Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

The Premier League referee has taken charge of 30 games this season and has handed out 112 yellow cards and four reds.

Simon Bennett and Timothy Wood will be his assistant referees with John Brooks as fourth official.

 

Matthew Smith will be on standby as a reserve assistant referee.


   
ReplyQuote
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 315
 

Thanks OFB for another enjoyable preview to a vital match. I think I am getting over my nervousness and replacing it with terror. We are so close to success that I need us to win on Wednesday. I might have to sit at the Riverside with my eyes closed and ears plugged.

As the last home match against Coventry was on the bank holiday I travelled over on the Sunday. When I got to the hotel, the bar was full of raucous Coventry supporters. Fortunately they went out later and didn't spoil my peaceful evening meal and they went home straight after the match so I had another nice meal. I was told however that they had booked rooms for this Wednesday night so I probably won't have a quiet pre-match evening.

I think Coventry will try to put us under pressure early on and cause a defensive error again especially as they have made it difficult for us to score in both previous matches. If they sit back and hope to score from a quick break they risk our strikers getting back into their "normal" scoring form and we have shown we can dominate possession and hold on to a lead.


Clive Hurren
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 637
 

@malcolm 

I absolutely agree with your praise of this game’s opener. Many thanks  and very well done, OFB! 

How lucky are we to have such dedicated and talented opener writers as Andy and OFB?! 

This post was modified 1 year ago by Clive Hurren

Clive Hurren
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 637
 

Exmil 

I completely missed the final results of the regular season challenge, so preoccupied am I with the playoffs. I’ve just checked the final table (and missed the next part of the challenge!) 

I’m mightily relieved to have escaped relegation by a hair’s breadth, by a whisker, by a short head, by the skin of me teeth, in fact by a mere two points. Thank goodness my goal difference was superior to that of the three unlucky, plucky relegation candidates. I’m only glad I signed those 2 Aston Villa loanees in January! Onwards and hopefully upwards: I’m already planning my strategy for the close season and for next year, and am confident I will end up in the top ten as Boro take on the challenge of the Premiership. 

Meanwhile, very many thanks for running the challenge again and for all your hard work. 


Page 1 / 6
Share: