By Rob Nichols
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Boro must click back into gear tonight and get back to winning ways v Huddersfield Town kick off 7.45pm at the Riverside. A whole lot of rainwater has fallen at the Riverside since Boro last won a league match and fell off the end of a nine game unbeaten run. Tonight we face strong opposition in newly promoted Huddersfield but we must hit back after successive defeats. Come on Boro.
That defeat on Saturday at home to then joint-bottom club Bristol City has sent shock waves through Boro fans and I'm sure the club too. We were very unlucky away at Cardiff City in our 1-0 defeat but following the 3-1 loss to The Robins was a big knock back. We are lucky that we have another home game so soon to put the record straight and record a positive result.
Not that Huddersfield will be push overs. Simon Grayson's team battled their way to promotion through the play offs and have adapted really well to the Championship. Even the sale of hotshot striker Jordan Rhodes doesn't seem to have dented the spirit of the West Yorkshire side. Remember it was The Terriers that so savagely put down Blackpool at Bloomfield Road only days after we had been destroyed there.
It will be interesting to see what changes Tony Mowbray makes tonight. The defence might well have to pick itself as we will be again be without Jonathan Woodgate and George Friend, both out until next week at least. We do miss them both and in fact the whole team loses a lot of balance and cut and thrust in attack without George's “Robocop” runs down the flank. Tonight we need to find a way to release Justin Hoyte forward, whichever side he starts down.
The suspended Grant Leadbitter will be a huge miss in the centre of midfield. After gradually feeling his way into the side at the start of the season the former Sunderland player has had a huge impact right through our side. I wonder whether Nicky Bailey will step in or if Mowbray decides to give the creative skills of injury prone Kevin Thomson an opportunity to flourish. Maybe after the back to back defeats we need the grit, fight and drive of Nicky Bailey forging like a rod of steel through the heart of the side.
The guy behind me in the North Stand applauded Mowbray's decision to substitute Ishmael Miller on Saturday, shouting loudly about Miller being absolute rubbish and the worst forward he had ever seen. When I turned round to disagree, Miller had scored and been our most threatening forward, he told me he would beat my brains out, nice guy. Hopefully "the fan" hasn't taken up the free ticket offer tonight. But I hope Ishmael Miller is playing because defenders do look fearful of him as he powers past them and he is grabbing a few goals now as a poacher.
We maybe will revert to Scott McDonald starting again. Or it could be that without Friend we look to put some width back into the side with either Adam Reach or Luke Williams playing wide. There are plenty of options up front but we need to harness them well and get that strikeforce back into goalscoring mood again.
So, it looks like being a fascinating contest tonight. Huddersfield drew 1-1 away to Charlton on Saturday and feature former Gateshead striker Lee Novak up front, the man that squared up to Coloccini in a pre-season friendly v Newcastle United. They are a very dangerous side indeed, moving the ball around well. The way they took apart Blackpool on SKY showed just what an attacking threat they pose.
Pull on your wellies and raincoat and get down to the Riverside to support the Boro as we aim to reign again at the Riverside.
Fmttm Prediction: Boro to bounce back with a 2-1 win.