Boro v Bournemouth was my final match before I leave Middlesbrough for pastures new and, while a 3-3 draw wasn’t what I was hoping for, at least is was a game with plenty of talking points.
Kei Kamara and Jacob Butterfield made their home debuts, in front of another depressingly low crowd of 13,617, but both put in a good shift, with the former finding the net after 19 minutes.
Unfortunately Boro were already two down by then, thanks to a brace of penalties from Brett Pitman.
The first seemed harsh as, from the stands, it looked like a decent tackle from Rhys Williams. The second, apparently a handball from Frazer Richardson, was also not clear to the fans, who by this time were baying for referee Graham Salisbury’s blood.
In fairness Salisbury was trying to follow the rule book, the problem being that he wasn’t using any common sense, general intelligence or knowledge of the game when doing so.
The tiniest of infractions resulted in a stoppage of play, although Salisbury didn’t start producing cards like they were confetti until extra time.
As performances go it was very hit and miss. Boro had the lion’s share of the possession but, despite three goals, couldn’t make it count. Butterfield worked hard but his lack of match fitness showed at times, Leadbitter had a shocker but scored his first goal on home turf and Carayol and Kamara both grabbed a goal apiece, just reward for their persistence. Woodgate looked to be struggling even before conceding an own goal which cost us two points, and Mowbray’s substitutions came too late.
Twenty -year-old Ben Gibson came on in the 87th minute and was promptly booked for entering the field of play too early. Other than that he acquitted himself well in the few minutes he was given and didn’t shy away from getting involved.
The game ended 3-3 with Boro down to ten men, after Williams got himself sent off in the 84th minute. A straight red means we’ll be without our chosen captain in what is going to be a true test of character against Harry Redknapp’s QPR – a team basically consisting of Redknapp’s Tottenham favourites circa 2009-2012.
Stating the obvious but, after eight games played no wins and sitting uncomfortably in 16th we need a win, the trouble is it’s hard to see where it’s going to come from, and even the most ardent and optimistic fan would struggle to see a positive outcome at Loftus Road.
Mowbray says Gibson is an option against QPR but he would rather start a player with ‘different attributes’ against QPR’s Premier pedigree team. So would we, but I don’t see one arriving any time soon!
Fingers crossed we can get something out of it but I won’t hold my breath.
Until then all that remains is to say Riverside Stadium – thanks for having me, it’s been a real rollercoaster (and other assorted clichés) and I’ll come back and visit sometime.