FA Carling Premiership
Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Leeds United
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Manchester United||AS Roma »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Mills, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Haaland, Hopkin (Bridges 87), Bowyer, Wilcox, Kewell, Smith (Huckerby 56)||Robinson, Duberry, Maybury|
|Middlesbrough||Schwarzer, Fleming, Festa, Pallister, Cooper, Ziege, Juninho, Maddison (Cummins 74), Summerbell, Campbell (Armstrong 74), Ricard (Vickers 87)||Beresford, Stockdale|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Kewell 67, Haaland 79, Mills 80|
|Middlesbrough||Pallister 16, Festa 85, Ziege 89||Festa 86|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||0||0|
|Matt G||Boro Report|
|The Guardian||Wasteful Bowyer lets Robson off the hook|
|The Observer||Leeds lack title sparkle|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Missed chances cost Leeds dear|
|The Times||Bowyer fluffs his lines as Leeds miss their chance|
|Express Sport||O'Leary's kids fail to pounce|
|The Independent||Leeds lament missed chance|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||United must find ruthless streak|
|BBC||Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Leeds United|
|Soccernet||Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Leeds United|
|Carlingnet||Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Leeds United|
Well my 4th visit to the Riverside and my 3rd 0-0, I'm sure they'll be a sackload of goals if I don't bother next year. Thanks to the local police, who held us on the motorway for no apparent reason, we managed to miss kick-off, though there were rumours of an early disallowed goal.
We had a slightly surprising formation, Alfie playing as the middle of 3 centre-backs, Harte and Mills as wing-backs, with Hopkin between Wilcox and Bowyer in midfield. Just leaving Smith to play upfront with Kewell. It actually worked quite well, Mills looks much better as a wing-back and Alfie's lack of fitness was less exposed in defence.
The first half an hour we were generally in control without there being too many chances. Bowyer headed against the bar when he probably should have scored with the best chance. Then for 15 minutes before half-time we lost the plot a bit, and Ricard headed against a post and Fleming shot wide of an empty net, despite Lucas' attempts to deflect it in. "Good job they're shit" someone next to me said at that point. Though in true "Anything you can do" style, Kewell hooked the ball wide of an open goal with the keeper stranded just prior to beer-fight time.
The 2nd half was a totally different story Huckerby soon replaced Smith and despite one shot hit straight at Martyn early in the half, we were in total control. Boro's midfield seemed to just vanish and Hopkin was driving into the spaces and setting up wave after wave of attack. The chances I can remember off the top of my head:
Bowyer hit one straight into the keepers chest from the penalty spot Wilcox hit it straight at the keeper when everyone had missed a cross from the right.
Huckerby tried to cross when he should have shot and Wilcox and Bowyer failed in the ensuing bundle.
Harte hit 2 long range efforts straight at the keeper.
Mills was narrowly wide from just outside the area.
Hopkin dribbled a shot straight at the keeper when clear in the D.
Kewell got to the by-line and failed to find another Leeds player.
Huckerby shot from 25 yards when he had a clear run in on the keeper
And then Bowyer had his customary miss with the easiest chance of the game with 5 minutes left.
After all this Festa got sent off for clattering Huckerby by the touchline for a 2nd booking, (it was so obvious we were singing "Time to go" before Forrest hit the ground), but it was too late to make much difference, although Bridges came on a sub and nearly bulldozed his way through from the halfway line. At the end the Middlesboro fans showed their level of ambition with wild cheering for the draw.
To cheer us up the end of the game bought the top comedy announcement of the season; "Attention all Leeds fans (uh-oh) due to beer spillage, (oh no they're going to make us clear it up) floors are slippery please be careful (Mass laughter)" That just left the friendly locals to encounter on the way out and to liven things up, one of the mounted policemen totally lost the plot and started charging into the Leeds fans walking back to the coaches.
Martyn 7 - Little to do.
Woody 9 - Looked in total control at the back, cleaned up efficiently, even a couple of sorties forward. Best game this year.
Alfie 7 - A bit of a Molenaar like performance I.e. Caught out of position now and then but recovered with some crunching tackles.
Lucas 8 - Business as usual after last weeks aberration.
Mills 7 - Looked OK going forward, didn't have too much defending to do.
Harte 7 - Couple of well hit shots - got forward well.
Hopkin 8 - Thought he was excellent in the 2nd half, after wasting possession a bit in the first.
Bowyer 7 - Kept getting forward all game, but could probably still be out there now without scoring.
Wilcox 6 - Bit quieter than of late, though playing more central than normal.
Kewell 8 - As always a constant threat, but no end product today.
Smith 6 - One of his ineffective games - also pretty greedy on a couple of occasions in the first half.
Huckerby 7 - One of his better games - probably because he got more time to do something. We looked more dangerous once he came on, his pace definitely worries defences even if he never seems sure where he should be at times.
Ref - Rennie OK though forgot how the advantage rule works a couple of times.
A game we deserved to and should have won. Before Xmas everything went right, now little is going for us. More worried about Arse and Liverpool than Scum now.
A few weeks ago a home-made poster appeared close to the Riverside with the message, "Wanted: new manager, apply within". Perhaps, considering Middlesbrough's mini-revival, it is symbolic that the ink has now run, the words barely distinguishable.
If similar thoughts had crossed the Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson's mind, it is a safe bet he will never confess as much. Little more than a week ago Bryan Robson was being tipped for the sack. Now the beleaguered Boro manager appears to have steadied a sinking ship, even if there are still holes to plug.
Four points from two games has assuaged their relegation worries and suggested that the anti-Robson faction failed to allow for his renowned durability. Once again the bruises are showing but there is no lasting damage.
© Guardian Media Group plc
A record attendance at The Riverside with hardly a game to warrant such a crowd. Leeds had the chances but were never incisive enough to make the most of them, and although they dominated the second half they looked far from the title chasers they were before Christmas. Boro offered little in return and had Gianluca Festa sent off late on for two fouls in the space of four minutes. A game best forgotten by both sides.
Boro were hoping to consolidate their success against Coventry last week, only their second victory in 15 matches. They were still without Brian Deane, who has injured ribs, while manager Bryan Robson in his pro gramme notes was at pains to stress that Paul Gascoigne was not destined for either Australia or the United States. The player still has a year left on his contract with Middlesbrough and Robson hopes to see him back in action in a month's time. Heaven help us.
© Guardian Media Group plc