Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sheff Utd v Middlesbrough 16/01/10

Sheff Utd 1 - Boro 0

By Steven Byrne

Despite three signings from Celtic in one week there wasn’t as much optimism in the air as there probably should have been.

Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Chris Killen all made their Boro debuts in the trip to Bramall Lane - where the Blades had only lost once in twelve and not conceded a goal in over eight hours prior to this match. Jeremie Aliadiere and Isiah Osbourne also returned to a Boro side which for the first time in a while looked as though it had a bit of balance and some much needed bite in midfield. Adam Johnson was also on to the bench after a hamstring injury.

It was a fairly uneventful first half with referee Andy D’Urso waving away the Blades appeals for a penalty after the ball appeared to hit Robson’s hand. Boro’s best chance came from Isiah Osbourne after he intercepted a clearance, wriggled his way into the area but could only manage a tame shot straight at Mark Bunn in the Sheffield United net. Moments later Chris Riggott’s tame header from a Robson free kick was gathered easily by Bunn.

Despite the home side having lost just one of their last eleven the home fans weren’t impressed with their team’s first half performance and the players left the field to a chorus of boos. The three Boro debutants impressed in the first half, all three putting themselves about, but it was clear to see that something was still missing. Unfortunately that something was getting the ball into the back of the net.

The second half began with the same 22 players taking to the field again and there was a sense that one goal would win it – hopefully it would be scored by a player in ‘Transporter Blue’.

Boro started brightly with captain Gary O’Neil forcing a good save from Bunn from a 25 yard free kick. It was a little disappointing that Robson’s ‘sweet left foot’ didn’t get a chance moments later when O’Neil then sent another free kick from a similar distance well over the top. Boro were starting to control the game but it was Sheffield united who got the decisive goal on 55 minutes. Andrew Taylor (no, not that one) whipped in a good cross from the left hand side which was met by Richard Cresswell after David Wheater was once again second best. Danny Coyne managed to get a hand to it but was unable to keep it out.

Not long after, the returning Aliadiere chased a long ball into the box and went down under a challenge from Chris Morgan in what looked like it a blatant penalty. Referee D’Urso didn’t think so and awarded a goal kick. That was it, you knew it wasn’t going to be our day, and I think the players did too. Their heads all seemed to drop at once, and even substitute Adam Johnson, on just after the hour for the once again injured Aliadiere, couldn’t impose himself on the game.

The game was petering out and Jonathan Franks replaced the hard working Flood with 15 minutes to go, but it was United substitute Henri Camara who had the best chance late on forcing a fine save from Danny Coyne tipping a low shot onto the post.

It was same old story for Boro, who have now lost 3 consecutive away games. There are signs that we are starting to turn things around and I feel that with the addition of someone who knows where the goal is we could have a good second half of the season. Oh, and someone also needs to give Wheater a kick up the backside!

Player Ratings

Coyne - 7
McMahon - 6
Riggott - 7
Wheater - 4
Hoyte - 6
Flood - 7
Robson - 8
Osbourne - 6
O’Neil - 7
Aliadiere - 5
Killen – 6

Johnson – 5
Franks - 5

Boro Man of the Match - Barry Robson
Attendance - 23,974
Game Highlight - Finally seeing some new signings

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