Middlesbrough 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

01 March 2010 08:40
Middlesbrough 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

THE NHS were offering free Chlamydia tests at the Riverside prior to Middlesbrough's latest Championship examination against Queens Park Rangers.

It is fair to say the check-up would have been wasted on an impotent Boro strikeforce which has failed to score for most of the current campaign.

It is just as well for Middlesbrough then that January recruit Barry Robson is showing strong signs of virility to make up for his teammates' shortcomings.

The influential midfielder was hero and match-winner for the second successive Riverside contest when he struck a first half brace of penalties to take his tally to three goals in two home games. The 31-year-old may not have been at his best in the early stages against Rangers but, just as he was in Middlesbrough's last home outing against Peterborough, he was still the catalyst for Boro's latest triumph.

Lesser players would have bottled penalty responsibilities when playing below par, but not Robson, who showed great character and bravery to take on the task when the game hung in the balance.

The first penalty, which saw Peter Ramage harshly punished for a challenge on Jeremie Aliadiere, ended a barren run of 301 minutes without a goal. The second spot-kick award saw Leroy Lita impeded by Kaspars Gorkss.

Both penalties, in the last six minutes of the first half, were absolutely thumped home by the Scot.

The first was powered straight down the middle of the goal, while the second was despatched with vicious ferocity high into Carl Ikeme's top left corner.

I like to smash them, but not always, revealed Robson after the match. I like to mix them up as well, it just depends how I feel on the day.

I was going to take it the last time (at Blackpool) but I passed it on for the first time in my career. I don't know why and Scott (McDonald) missed.

But I will be taking them from now on, until I miss anyway.

The former Celtic man dismissed the suggestion that the club's two recent defeats had had a negative effect around the club. He says if anything the setbacks have made the squad stronger.

I don't think it has been all doom and gloom recently because if you had seen the way we played at Nottingham Forest and Blackpool you would have known that we never deserved to lose them, he insisted.

It has been frustrating but I think we have turned the corner quite a bit in the last eight or nine weeks.

We have looked a lot stronger and picked up a lot of points. We need to add to the squad to help make us better.

We can't do that until the summer, but it's looking up and we're moving forward.

Robson may be right but if Boro are to move forward and clinch a place in the play-offs, then they will need to improve their creativity and strike rate. The club's strikers have contributed only 16 of the 45 goals scored this term. A more worrying statistic reveals that Boro's forwards have netted only twice in the last 12 outings, while it is 353 minutes since the Teessiders last scored from open play.

The hosts did generate a few opportunities on Saturday but, with trips to Cardiff, Derby and Watford to come, and home fixtures against Newcastle, Reading and Preston, the forthcoming opposition will prove to be a lot more difficult to break down than Mick Harford's struggling Rangers. But the lack of goals from open play did not seem to worry Robson. Boro's match- winning hero believes the strikers' disease will eventually remedy itself.

He said: We need wee Scott (McDonald) back. That's his job; to score goals. And the poor guy has been playing with a hernia problem. He'll help when he's fit.

Chris Killen has just come back and Jeremie Aliadiere is coming back to fitness. Leroy Lita came in today and had a great first half. I'm sure they will start banging the goals in and we'll be all right.

And if Robson's prediction turns out to be correct then opposition defenders will need to take more precautions than a STD test.

Match facts Goals:

1-0: (39, Robson blasted down centre of the goal after Aliadiere fouled)

2-0: (45, Robson fired high into goalkeeper's top left-hand corner, after Gorkss fouled Lita)

Bookings: Gorkss (45, foul), Killen (72, foul)

Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northampton) perhaps a little fussy and possibly made a wrong call for the first penalty but good overall 7

Attendance: 17,568

Entertainment:

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2)

6 Coyne: Rarely tested but when called up after the break made a super stop from Adel Taarabt;

6 Naughton: Untroubled defensively and got forward to support attacks when required

7 McManus: Calming influence alongside Wheater and never gave the opposing strikers a sniff

7 Wheater: Finally finding the form which saw him called into the England squad

7 Pogatetz: Tackled like a demon before he made way for Taylor. Nothing got past him;

6 Flood: The midfielder worked hard up and down the right all afternoon

6 O'Neil: Always a threat from set plays and will be disappointed he didn't score at the death

8 ROBSON: The influential midfielder couldn't find his range early on but showed his worth taking on penalty duty responsibility

4 Aliadiere: Won a penalty but did little else in a poor showing;

5 Killen: Still working towards match fitness but will be disappointed he did not score in the first half

6 Lita: A busy show and dangerous at times.

Subs:

Franks (for Aliadiere 65) Offered a bit more industry than his predecessor 5

Taylor (for Pogatetz 78) Arca ( for Lita 82)

(not used): Jones (gk), Hoyte, Grounds, Miller

QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-4-2):

Ikeme 6; Ramage 5, Stewart 6, Gorkss 5, Hill 5 (Borrowdale 5, 55); LEIGERTWOOD 7, Buzsaky 6, Faurlin 5 (Taarabt 5, 67), Cook 5; Simpson 6, German 5 (Bent 4, 55).

Subs (not used): Cerny (gk), Vine, Balanta, Ephriaim.

MAN OF THE MATCH

BARRY Robson - showed character and bottle to take two penalties when lesser players would have shirked their responsibilities.

Source: Northern_Echo