THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

29 November ~ Middlesbrough's curate's egg of a season continued with a 1-1 draw at Peterborough on Saturday. Paul Taylor's spectacular 81st-minute strike – which came about as a result of some dreadful defending – cancelled out Matthew Bates's deserved opener for the Boro. The away side had dominated for the first hour, but then failed to cope with Peterborough's more direct approach and came undone after failing to clear a regulation cross. Boro still had chances to snatch the three points their overall dominance deserved, but in the end frustration was the overriding emotion of the fans and boss Tony Mowbray.

On the one hand, the result means that Mowbray's men have gone four games unbeaten since a 3-0 defeat at Southampton at the end of October, in what was only their second loss of the season. But on the other hand, the team have thrown away a lead three times in two games. They came away from a home game against Blackpool and the trip to London Road with just two points, when six were comfortably within their grasp.

A win tonight, however, and those lapses could well be forgiven. Sadly the visitors to the Riverside are Sam Allardyce's West Ham, who are unbeaten in six games. They have won five of those and could move to the the top of the table if Southampton slip up against Hull. West Ham have lost only once away from home all season, but are yet to take a point off a fellow top-four club, while Middlesbrough remain unbeaten on Teesside.

As Peterborough showed on Saturday, Middlesbrough's defence are far more comfortable when attacks come along the ground. Aerial bombardment – Allardyce's speciality – could see them come undone. At the other end, however, Marvin Emnes's struggles with injury could force Mowbray to give Merouane Zemmama a start. The Moroccan playmaker is the only player in the Boro squad with the trickery needed to create chances against what will be a stubborn West Ham defence.

As with many of Middlesbrough's home performances, caution will be the more likely approach from the home side. Continuing the unbeaten run would be a success of sorts against the pre-season promotion favourites. As it is, there is a chance that one, if not both, of these teams will be playing in the Premier League next season and now is a good time to develop the skill of grinding out results. Charles Walford

Comments (11)
Comment by ad hoc 2011-11-29 11:22:14

I think you should get a "Ding" for using the word "Boro" and expecting us to know who you're talking about in a match report involving Middlesbrough and Peterborough.

It's not quite as heinous as the similar use of "United" in the mainstream media, but it's still worth a polite harrumph.

Comment by drew_whitworth 2011-11-29 11:48:10

Particularly as only one of the clubs comes from a town that's actually called '...borough'. (As opposed to '...brough'.

Still, I can get annoyed when WBA are referred to as 'Albion'. As I'm sure do West Bromwich Albion fans when Brighton are so referred to. And doubtless Burton Albion fans resent both.

Comment by jameswba 2011-11-29 12:18:52

Drew, that's understandable. Trouble is that some WBA fans have a profound dislike of being called 'West Brom', though it does find its way into the odd chant. I also remember someone on here a while back getting in rather a flap about overuse of 'Baggies'. So what do you suggest?

As to the game at Middlesbrough tonight, I'm as definite in my preferences as for any Championship fixture this season. So come on 'Boro....

Comment by Fussbudget 2011-11-29 12:26:21

I'm sure somebody on the board once claimed he referred to them as "WeeBeeEy" but I can't imagine that catching on.

As for Peterborough they need to make their bloody mind up, no way I'm letting them have both the Posh and the Boro.

Comment by ad hoc 2011-11-29 12:31:39

Not convinced that their fans use Posh much at all, tends to be Boro as far as I can tell. As do any local rivals they have (Cambridge Utd, mostly, but possibly others too)

Comment by mjfarrow 2011-11-29 13:12:52

Make sure Allardyce doesn't see this. He's currently waging a PR war against anybody who claims his side are anything other than a flowing, beautiful footballing side.

Comment by JimDavis 2011-11-29 14:25:36

As a West Bromwich Albion fan, I don't mind what we are called. What I do get sick of is the media jumping on a bandwagon regarding styles of play (a bit like you have done above with Allardyce's West Ham!). Under Mowbray we became Free Flowing Albion and then later that changed to Naively Managed Albion, regardless of results or injuries.
18 games into the current season and I’m still yet to read anyone point out the Middlesbrough have the best defensive record in the championship. Not bad for a bloke why is viewed as defensively naive.

Comment by mjfarrow 2011-11-29 20:17:06

Middlesbrough have taken to playing a back five and trying to hit teams on the break, that's why. To be fair to Mowbray, I think he's one of the best tacticians around and this season he's proved he can go pragmatic and defensive when that's what he has in the squad.

Comment by jonmid 2011-11-29 22:56:27

don't get me started on tony the moaner it was because of him I had to put with west brazil fans preaching to me about how good their football was. When they got relegated in 2009 I couldn't have been happier especially has how a punch of cloggers finished 12th

Comment by tempestinaflathat 2011-11-30 11:26:02

As a child, I always referred to West Bromwich Albion as 'Wubba'. I think my only mistake was to stop; clearly, that's the most appropriate name and should be adopted forthwith.

Comment by Diable Rouge 2011-12-01 21:24:24

WBA are the Throstles, surely?

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