WELL that was a sickener. Birmingham got a late, late leveller to mug Boro of what would have been a hard earned - and rare - away win and kick long suffering supporters squarely in the kisser. You would think we would have evolved six inch thick emotional armour against the stoppage time sucker punch but it still stings like hell.
Leaking deep into added time to a twice taken corner was a real blow. Especially after also conceding a needless penalty. All we needed was a harsh sending off to complete the shambolic defending full set.. Battling Boro had played with a real shape, spirit and solidity and were within touching distance of a result that could have been a turning point of the season before the familiar fatal flaw showed its face. It hurts. But it isn't a great surprise.
A LAST gasp sucker punch knocked the stuffing out of Boro at Pride Park.
The ten men had worked their nuts off to contain the Championship's form side: "Steve McClaren's Derby." That Boro's former boss engineered a painful 2-1 defeat for Boro with the goals coming in the Red Zones (45+1 and 90) was heavy with irony.
WINS are like kids: you have to love them all, even the ugly ones.
Boro's 1-0 spot-kick shoot-out showdown win over Bolton wasn't the prettiest but who cares? Boro won and clocked up a clean sheet against the Championships's form side. And on a day when a cut-price ticket deal and Aitor Karanka's dug-out debut lured the biggest crowd of the season and everyone went away with a bit of a buzz.
A PREMIER League atmosphere but very much a Championship match.
Leeds had the edge for long spells of their scrappy 2-1 Elland Road win but even with the extra man couldn't finish Boro off. Even with switch snub striker Ross McCormack powered by football's Inevitability Drive - and waved on by 10,000 daft quid coupons from both sets of supporters - Leeds couldn't push home their advantage. And Boro could even, at a push, snatched a spawny point late on through Jutkiewicz. Maybe.
Boro scored a cracking equaliser with ten men through Muzzy Carayol and had patches of shapeless pressure but for all the second half effort and industry they couldn't force another goal.
Worryingly, but predictably, both Leeds goals came from set-plays, the first from a corner and the second when a poorly defended corner was knocked back in. Both times Boro men were easily beaten in the air. And there were a few other set-piece scares too.
And the red card... people will blame Steele for his rush of blood in steaming out to clatter Blackstock and rightly so, he could have stayed and seen what developed rather than charging in and giving the referee a decision to make - but the problems stemmed from a very poor Ayala header. Was it intended to be a back header to Steele? Was it intended for Richardson? Who knows.
Confusion reigned after the game with no-one in authority from either club able to get a clarification from the referee whether the card was for serious foul play or for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity or whether Steele is facing a one or three match ban but whatever, the situation was created once again from defensive indecision. That is the most pressing problem the new boss will need to address.
No-one expected miracles. It is the same team with the same weaknesses as before. And to be fair, a debut dug-out defeat is the norm. Mogga lost his opener, as did Strachan and Southgate before him. And McClaren was battered 4-0 and lost his first four. The last new boss to win was Bryan Robson back in 1994.
Still, after 10 days watching the team in training at least the boss has now seen in unavoidable full colour glorious blundervision exactly the size of the task in hand. Welcome to el Championship Senor Karanka.
LEEDS. "The Dirties" as my children think they are officially nicknamed. Not the power to be feared they once were. Nor even the hostile atmosphere of old for visiting fans. And not/probably not/as close we get to "a derby" - but still a game with a potential to really sting if we lose. Throw in the buzz around Aitor Karanka's dug-out debut and a decent 2,500 turnout and we have all the ingredients of a culturally charged short-haul showdown.
Leeds. Every time we go there these days they seem to be in the throes of the latest destabilising takeover bid or boardroom battle. Usually by a mysterious offshore outfit with anonymous (but bearded) Byzantine corporate structures that are part geography lesson and part tax efficient financial flowchart. This time at least they know who is trying to buy a stake ... Lucas Radebe, superb stand in keeper (but not good enough to keep out Graham Kavanagh's penalty) and Kaiser Chiefs legend.
Anyway, enough of the waffle. Here's one I did earlier on the curious historical nature of the Leeds retro-derby...
JOSE Mourinho's former right hand man Aitor Karanka has now been officially installed as the new manager. Here's a bit on the unfolding big picture and why Boro decided upon a radically different way of operating in a bid to reignite the club.
BORO are poised to name former Real Madrid assistant boss Aitor Karanka as their new manager tomorrow.
The appointment of Jose Mourinho's one time right hand man - Boro's first choice target sinc ethe moment the axe fell on Mogga - has yet to be confirmed as there a few bits of housekeeping to be completed. And given Boro's history there will probably be guards posted around Rockliffe Hall tonight to prevent any last gasp Forlan style hi-jacks.
I've already written about 20,000 words - obviously were were given the wink - which I'll stick up as soon as I can. But for now feel free to read through this from last week about what Boro's thinking is and chat amongst yourself.
NORMALLY the sickening stoppage time leveller from a dead-ball kicks Boro squarely in the gnashers so it was nice to be on the right end for a change. And it was a nice moment of personal redemption for prolific Daniel Ayala scoring it after his dropped clanger almost handed the points to Watford on a mink lined silver platter.
But for all the sudden upsurge of emotions at the death, and for all the guilty giggles at the brass-necked mugging and spawny opportunist theft of a barely deserved point it can't disguise how poor the second half was. It was a shapeless, chaotic mess. It was clunky. There was plenty of energy but no sense of cohesion. The game was so scrappy it was in great danger of being put on the back of a lorry and weighed in.
Boro were woeful at the back. And not just in the second half. They got caught flat-footed and ball watching in the second minute but the flag went up. They were repeatedly caught out for pace, they were torn apart by routine balls over the top and there were a lot of individual mistakes. Watford will be gutted they didn't finish Boro off.
That said, for all that the game - quite possibly the last with Mark Venus in charge - shrivelled into an error-strewn, nervous, low-quality lack-lustre Championship affair it must be said Boro's opening goal was bloody fantastic. It was sublime. It was Brazilian. It was a supremely engineered strike that combined deft skill with imagination and execution. It was a moment of magic.
Marvin Emnes was wonderful as he wriggled along the edge of the box, neatly smuggling the ball between two defenders with a mesmerising sleight of foot then rolled it short to Kei Kamara. He showed great vision to play a geometrically perfect protractor measured diagonal ball between the defence into the path of Rhys Williams who had over-lapped untracked down the right and into the box and the Aussie carried it goalwards and drew a defender with him then cheekily back-heeled it for goal machine Albert Adomah to squeeze a low angled shot inside the near post for his sixth in five games
That's what I'll remember from the game, I'll airbrush the rest out of history.
IT'S QUIET out there... too quiet. But there is plenty going on. Beyond the white noise of the betting markets, some supporters' obsession with Apostelic succession and a firm belief in former favourites as serious candidates just because they have worn the shirt, Steve Gibson is taking his time over making what is probably his most important appointment since Bryan Robson.
Here's some musings on the recruitment process.
ANY hopes of a football fairytale unfolding for Mark Venus ended as Jason Lowe's sizzler curled in. It wiped away the Doncaster dividend and left Boro looking as just as fragile on the road as they were before the axe fell on Tony Mowbray.
Not that Boro's 1-0 defeat at Blackburn fell into the Barnsley category. It didn't. It wasn't a woeful display. It wasn't even particularly bad. It was just a bit flat and ordinary and after the high of the 'Spirit of Teesside' it felt like Boro had lost some fizz and momentum.