Quids In: Boro Sting Pays Dividends
LUKE WIlliams' family are in the money after their daft quid double on the Ginger Messi as first scorer in a 2-0 win came up at 50-1. Result. But for long spells as the clock ran down they looked very unlikely to be collecting. Seasoned Boro gamblers doing a Ray Winstone and betting in-play would have been piling into Ipswich to score the next goal.
With the visitors piling forward there was a scrappy spell in and around the Boro box with scrambles and slips and blocks and some frantic no-frills defending. Battle scarred Boro fans were groaning inwardly, expecting Ipswich to score at least one goal. Jason Steele made a couple of good saves, Jonathan Woodgate glanced a Chopra overhead effort over the bar (and got away with what looked a stonewall penalty as he hauled back Cresswell at a free-kick) and Boro were really struggling to get and keep the ball.
Then a quick ball forward from safe-hands assist king Steele sent parmo-powered speed king Muzzy Carayol streaking forward to seal it in stoppage time. The final 2-0 scoreline looks a lot safer than the game felt. It was a nervous finish and Boro made far harder work of seeing the game out than neccessary. Again.
But let's look at the positives: last season that would have been a draw. Or worse. For all the jitters Boro kept a clean sheet, the first in the league this term. It was a solid show at the back with blocking machine and new boy Andre Bikey showing he is not just 'a big unit' but can play a bit too (there was one drag-back, turn and nut-meg by the corner flag which was what I believe young people call #tekkers). Woody did OK too. And Steele. And the full-backs worked hard too - although they needed to as the midfield crumbled when the pressure was on in the second half.
That makes three home wins on the bounce at home to help slowly build a platform at the Riverside. None of those victories have been overly convincing but, hey, three wins; nine points ... that'll do. Considering Mowbray is still nowhere near finding his first choice team - seasonal debuts for Carayol, Thomson, Bikey and Jutkiewicz mean Boro have used 24 players in the Championship already this term - his newly reshaped side have showed real promise. They pass the ball crisply, move well off it and create chances. There is pace and an attacking instinct. Add to that some extra steel at the back and it is the makings of a decent side in this league.
Of course, so far we have seen just flashes of 30, 45 or 60 minutes at a time and have yet to see them do it over a sustained 90 minutes. It'll come. Early days.