By Rob Nichols
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Boro started with the two new signings in the ranks, Frazer Richardson and Albert Adomah both stepped out on the right side of the field and made a big impact for the team. The Hungarian Jozsef Varga was able to switch to the centre and combine brilliantly with Leadbitter and Whitehead in a bustling, non stop midfield that will take some upsetting in this division. Many of the away fans I spoke with made Varga their man of the match and he would definitely get my vote, he was simply always there clearing up or driving on the play.
Boro easily dominated the possession in the first 45 minutes. New winger Albert Adomah sprinted away down the right in the first few minutes. Muzzy Carayol enjoyed his best game of the campaign so far posing a constant threat down either wing or moving through traffic in the centre. He just needs to find his shooting boots.
Boro maintained a midfield stranglehold through the majority of the first period much to the delight of the loud and always positive, supporting travelling fans. There was lots of chanting of the team's name as well as as the manager as Boro continued to push the ball around and drive the home team backwards.
Our one problem was our lack of penetration upfront, The Juke was bouncing between two big centre halves, no one seemed able to get a shot or header off on target. Mind you Charlton were almost like the away side pressed back and nearly always all behind the ball.
It could have been history repeating itself as the imperious Jonathan Woodgate rose highest for a corner but was adjudged to have pushed as he headed goalward. The rebound was crashed against the bar by Adomah but the referee's whistle had already gone before any debate could ensue about whether it had rebounded over the line or not.
At the other end Woodgate and Rhys Williams dominated Marvin Sordell. A lively winger caused us problems with his pace on the break but flattered to deceive by failing to create anything. For Boro, Varga had pushed on to shoot on target and then Boro had pinged the ball around for several moves that were just begging a better final ball or finishing touch.
The one worrying moment in the first half was when Whitehead was yellow carded for what the referee adjudged to be a deliberate elbow on big forward Yann Kermorgant. As the Charlton writhed around on the ground we booed the decision knowing full well that if it was truly deliberate it should have been a red.
At the end of the half Jutkiewicz limped from the field he had fought a real battle up front. Boro had dominated but worryingly had no goals to show for all that territorial advantage. Surely, here was no way we could expect to control things quite so emphatically in the second period. Would we be made to pay again for not converting chances?
The home team did come more into the match in the second half but Boro continued to make most of the running in midfield and in Carayol and Adomah worried Charlton time and again down the flanks.
An early corner was cleared off the head of the onrushing Varga and then George Friend, looking far more like his old self, carved open his opposite full back before cutting inside to send over a searing cross shot that only just evaded the lunges of both Varga and The Juke.
The game was hotting up as Charlton had actually managed a soft shot on target but then fizzed past Richardson, centred and only a superb blocking save by Steele prevented a golden goal chance at the back post. Jason Steele was soon to pick up an ankle injury and although initially able to continue the lengthy treatment would guarantee 5 minutes of nail biting injury time at the end of the game.
Boro's breakthrough moment came as the Charlton defence finally started to crack. Carayol was gifted the ball and his weaving run was only just thwarted for a corner. From that corner the defence and keeper got into a mix up and Lukas Jutkiewicz exploited to the full by heading over the defenders and into the back of the unguarded net. 1-0.
The goal was scored right down in front of our fans and we all celebrated together. Juke was absolutely delighted and punched the air. Could we hold on for a precious win?
There was more drama as Steele had to leave the field but not before making another superb clearing save. Leutwiler came on and Charlton sensing it was now or never also made two changes.
Once Boro had weathered the brief Charlton storm we took hold of the ball again and control. Smallwood came on for Leadbitter who seemed to have run himself into the ground. Emnes appeared later doors, replacing Carayol, who although looking out on his feet for much of the final quarter kept rousing himself to torment the opposition with mazy runs.
Boro clung on, to be truthful without many worrying moments. At the final whistle the players all rushed over to applaud the travelling fans. Our first away win since December 8th 2012 at Peterborough, a statistic that has been weighing us down all year. Leadbitter threw his shirt to a young fan in celebration. George Friend was surrounded by team mates applauding the fans. Great moments at a ground we seemed to love playing on.
Boro looked solid and strong. The midfield was dominating, the defence stifling and our wingers a real handful. In Juke we have a battering ram of a centre forward who has now scored in 2 in 2 games. Tony Mowbray has travelled abroad today in an effort to bring in the much needed striker reinforcements. It will be a positive camp he is trying to entice them to join as Boro finally turned a page and announced their arrival. Up The Boro.
Charlton 0-1 Middlesbrough – Lukas Jutkiewicz