Can Boro Bounce Back v Preston?
By Rob Nichols
Wednesday 13 Mar 2019 17:35:00
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It will be a tough match tonight at the Riverside and not just because Boro were defeated at home on Saturday to Brentford but because Preston are on a real surge of momentum. Ten matches unbeaten, including a 3-1 win over Norwich. Ominously the team from Lancashire has won the last five on the road. Time to put a full stop to that run then. Get behind your team at the Riverside tonight. Kick off 7.45pm.

Boro were looking strong favourites for a play off finish. Before the 0-0 at Wigan fans were even daring to dream about a challenge to the top two. That bubble has been well and truly burst with the last couple of results and performances.

Now we are not just back down to earth but in a very dark place. The home win against QPR seemed to be a real turning point but the Bees have blown that out of the water.

Many will argue that the substitution of Britt Assombalonga on Saturday was a turning point. Personally I thought the Bees had worked us out long before and it was only a mixture of goalkeeping brilliance, desperate last ditch defending and the linesman’s flag that was keeping us in front. They were absolutely hammering us down the flanks and exposing our attacking wing backs to the full. We had to reinforce those flanks at all costs. Sadly though the reshuffled defence did not learn their new roles before being punished not once but twice.

If there is one lesson though from this season it is that no team seems to be able to hold together an unbeaten run for long. The only consistency is inconsistency. That is one reason why I am fancying Boro to snap back tonight and bring Preston down to river level.

We have not seen the best of John Obi Mikel for two games. I am tipping him to kick back tonight. His professional pride will be hurting. There are a lot of players with things to prove. Britt will be chomping at the bit to prove that he has the goal power and must be kept on the pitch. Fletcher scored a real poacher’s goal on Saturday. He needs to build on that and show he can make a winning contribution between now and the end of the season.

Jonny Howson held his head low at the end of a match where he showed plenty of endeavour without getting a shot through the crowded penalty box. We will be asking for more of the goalbound efforts that were a trademark of his Norwich career.

That stingy defence were stung on Saturday, they must close ranks again, with John Obi Mikel snapping shut all routes through the centre but propelling us forward with real momentum again.

The supporters want to see a good game of football, a team showing enterprising, attacking football. But that must be the home side and not the away. Boro lad Jordan Hugill will have plenty to prove against the club that made him a Premier League target for West Ham. Could this be the prefect night for his Boro career to catch fire against his old mockers?

Come on Boro, for the fans. To show Alex Neil and his play off win. And to push us back into a more secure play off place.

Up The Boro

 



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