Going in to yesterday’s match against Sheffield Wednesday, Boro were unbeaten and coming off the back of a good performance which earned them a draw at Wigan.
We started confidently and had plenty of chances to open the scoring with with Albert Adomah, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Grant Leadbitter and George Friend all going for goal in the first half.
Before the game, I put a bet on for George Friend to score the first goal and the match to finish 2-0. I’m not a big gambler but I felt that the odds – 115/1 – merited at least a £1 stake, because they didn’t take into account the confidence a player gets from scoring his first goal for the club. And he very nearly proved me right.
Always industrious, Friend started the match with only one thing on his mind, doubling his Boro goal tally. He came close too, but sadly it wasn’t to be and, instead, some dodgy collective defending allowed Michail Antonio to slot the ball home and give Wednesday the lead on 34 minutes.
Steele was furious with his defenders and, during a break in play, took the opportunity to remonstrate with captain Rhys Williams.
We’ve heard numerous times that the players work on defending set-pieces in training, but whatever they are doing it’s still not working. this was an all too familiar goal conceded from a basic set-piece.
Fortunately, Muzzy Carayol equalised in some style on 49 minutes and Boro managed to see out the rest of the match to secure a draw.
On the whole, there were more positives than negatives to take from the game. First of all, we played entertaining football! Secondly, we really fought to hold on to the draw and worked hard to secure a point. There was a new level of grit to this Boro side, they finally seemed to understand that we are going to have to fight tooth and nail for every ball and they looked ready to do so.
Special mention to Lukas Jutkiewicz, who literally gave his blood and sweat for us – continuing to play through two bandages to the head and a hastily changed shirt – but he is struggling to make an impact without a strike partner.
Justin Hoyte was brought back in to the team, in my opinion, to put him in the shop window as, if memory serves, our current highest earners are Hoyte and Marvin Emnes.
Mowbray continues to try to conjure up a striker from the smoke and mirrors of the transfer window but taking Hoyte or Emnes off the wage bill might make it easier to pull a Billy Sharp out of the hat.
For now though, let’s just wish the players well as they head into the international break, and hope they come back ready to defend our unbeaten record.