Middlesbrough 0-1 MIllwall ~ Match Report

Rating: 2 votes, 3.50 average.
A trip to the North East is always a little bit different and when the venue is a place that the Lions have never played before it all adds up to a must have opportunity.

Me and MrsB fired up the trusty Bonemobile and headed north and into the unknown. Middlesbrough; It is pronounced in its correct form as mid-els-bra but the locals for some obscure reason have taken to calling it mid-els-ba-ra but either way it as desolate place to visit.

You may recall a few years back there was a huge scandal in Teesside whereby many local people were suddenly accused of abusing their children. It was mainly unfounded and about a hundred children were taken from their families and put into care.

This caused the rest of the country to recoil in horror at the time and although the accusations were proven unfounded the stigma has never gone away and even today anyone from Middlesbrough is known as a nappy ripper.

In fairness you can see why the local social services might think that the locals were all wrong ‘uns. They appear to have all developed from the same gene pool and all look and sound like extras from “when the boat comes in”.

We parked at the ground and observed the locals. Weird doesn’t even come close. Strange, odd, bizarre or peculiar may go some way in bestowing a apt description of these and I use the term loosely, people.

The Riverside stadium is also a bit of a misnomer. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I can accept the moving sludge that is the Tee is a fuckin’ river.
The Auf Weidersehen transporter bridge is visible from outside (perhaps the second most famous thing about this place apart from the nappy ripping saga) and it looks in better shape than the stadium.

The outside looks a bit tired but inside looks positively comatose. The whole thing looks like it needs scrubbing and cleaning and this includes the staff serving behind the counters. It would also help if the staff could actually speak a bit of English. I am not being racist. These people are born and bred in Teesside but their command of our beloved language is bordering on incomprehensible.

I asked for “two pies and two coffees’, please” What came back sounded something like “muncencurra?”

I must’ve looked like a rabbit in the headlights. I had no idea what this female of the species had said.

She repeated it a little bit louder and a little bit slower like she was talking to a child but it still sounded like muncencurra to me.

MrsB stepped into rescue me and worked out that I was being offered a choice of Mince or Curry. I made my choice and then the creature asked me another question. It was something like “deryerwanna whya blerk”

The rabbit quickly reappeared as I stared into middle distance and smiled and nodded.

“Coffee?” it said. I was at last on safe ground...”yes please, two coffees” I repeated.

“Whya blerk?”

Ahh , got it....white or black...ye Gods this was hard work....

We retreated to safety and took our seats just in time for the teams to be announced. Mr Jackett had been busy in the loan market and had drafted in two newbie’s who went straight into action. Calvin Andrew and Jason Puncheon slotted into the line up which was as follows:

Forde, Craig, Shittu, Robbo, Dunne, Henry, Trotter, Mkandawire, Andrew, Morison and Puncheon.

A boisterous and lively away following of nigh on a thousand Lions fans were already making themselves heard as the teams walked onto the pitch.

The risibly named T Kettle was the referee and he got us under way as the customary northern rain started to drift down. This will be his only mention as for once we had nothing much to complain about in the refereeing stakes but the lino on our left was a complete shit and I hope his balls turn square and fester at the corners.

The home fans were strangely quiet except for when a lone drummer in the section to our right tried to beat out a rhythm for them to join in but all they seemed to do was bounce up and down and wave their scarves around their heads in an almost tribal ritual.

To be honest though they had fuck all to cheer about as we set off at an alarming pace, forcing a couple of quick corners before a minute was on the clock.

We looked very assured and full of self belief as we imposed our authority onto the game. The home side couldn’t cope with the speed and ingenuity of pour play and we soon carved out and early opportunity as Morison was left unmarked at the far post but Henry’s cross was cut out by ‘keeper Steele as the big striker was poised to nod home.

Minutes later Trotter, looking more like his old self, fed new boy Puncheon who showed us that he certainly can play a bit. He was strong on the ball and shrugged off the attentions of two defenders and struck a sweet effort that was well saved by Steele.

The whole team looked comfortable and they were playing some very neat and tidy stuff and looked like they knew what they should be doing.

Middlesbrough had a rare sortie into our box and almost nicked a fluke of a goal as a deflected ball looped high over everyone but Forde was up to the task and tipped the ball to safety.

It was a mere blip in proceedings though as the lively Lions continued to take the initiative, forcing the home side onto the back foot and playing them off the park.

Morison had a glorious chance to open the scoring as he found some room to the right of their goal but his blistering drive went wide of the mark
Morison was again wasteful when new boy Andrew flicked the ball into his path but his aim was again off kilter.

Too much pressure will usually bring its own release and finally we got a reward for our endeavours on the 25 minute mark. James Henry collected the ball in the centre of midfield and slipped a lovely pass down the left flank to Trotter. Trotter moved forward and hit a low cross that went behind the back tracking defenders but right into the path of Puncheon who showed class and composure by slotting home. 0-1! The travelling contingent at the opposite end of the ground went into overdrive as the celebrations went on for ages.

The goal was a kick up the Khyber for the home team but in truth they did little to respond. Actually, ignore that, we didn’t allow them to respond, such was our dominance.

We thought we had got a second soon after as Puncheon hit a fine free kick that evaded the wall and had ‘keeper Steele rooted to the spot but the ball went fractionally wide but from our end it looked like it had gone in.

We continued to boss the game but on the stroke of half time Forde again proved his worth by making a fine backwards save from an awkward looking looping header.

The half ended soon after and all were in agreement that we had done a thorough job on Middlesbrough and the one goal advantage did not reveal the scope of how much better than them we were.

As we might’ve expected, Middlesbrough started the second half with a bit more fire in their bellies but although they had a lot of the ball they were going nowhere fast with it.

Morison had a shot deflected for a corner and Puncheon, really looking the part, found space for a shot that rifled into the side netting.
Our back four looked solid and with Shittu in commanding form his poise and composure was clearly influencing Robbo as well, which can only be a good thing. Dunne was also playing really well he seemed to have found an extra yard of pace from somewhere and Tony Craig had slipped into the left back role seamlessly as well

Andrew in midfield was not as noticeable as the effervescent Puncheon up front but he was certainly looking comfortable.
Henry was looking like he was getting back to his best. Trotter and Mkandawire were bossing their midfield areas and hand on heart I can say that we never looked in any danger at all.

If the home side needed something to sum up their woeful afternoon it appeared in the shape of Wheater who had a shot from distance that started rising immediately and kept going...and going...and going...over the top of the stand and out of the stadium which was pretty impressive.

We then had a stoppage after Robbo and Shittu clashed heads. They were both out flat for a minute or so then Robbo got back to his feet but Shittu was still prone. It took about six or seven minutes for the big man to recover and he finished the game with his head bandaged up but he didn’t let this affect his performance.

Harris replaced Andrew with five minutes left and the loanie got a decent round of applause from the travelling faithful and even with six minutes of stoppage time that saw Henry clear a header off the line, we held firm and took home three very valuable points.
It was a well deserved victory and one that was desperately needed. The lads were roundly cheered off the pitch and they deserved every plaudit they received.

So we keep our record of having never dropped a point at the Riverside stadium, Me and MrsB get to tick another away ground off the list and despite a 45 minute wait to get the Bonemobile out of the car park we headed home with the broadest of smiles on our faces.

Mr Jackett has moved to stop the slide and he got it right (again). We must get a bit of momentum going now and the away game against Preston next Saturday is just the ticket.

See you all there!
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