Date: 1st February 2009 at 6:40pm
Written by:

In the second edition of Vital Fans View, Roverjoy takes a look at our match away at Boro.

Here we go –

This being my first fan zone review I would have liked a better game but sadly not to be starting with another 0-0 draw the first in 10 years for this fixture. A game of few chances ended in yet again another clean sheet, but another two points dropped. Making it three draws on the trot, with 6 clean sheets in our last 8 games. With that sour feeling quoted by Big Sam himself “I feel like we`ve lost here today. To only come away with a point is bitterly disappointing.” I totally agree and have felt like that a lot recently especially in our away games. But points are points and I would prefer to get 1 rather than 0, unlike the philosophy of all or nothing that didn`t prove too good with Paul Ince which has ended us up in this mess.

The game started cagey and remained it, a relegation six pointer that neither side could afford to lose. Both sides started conservatively just hitting it up long ball to each other and were just cancelling each other out. I think Southgate saw Ooijer as a bit of a weaknes in our back line against someone with pace and that is why Johnson started on the left not the right. Not a lot in the first half apart from a good effort from Grella on the edge of the box spilling out from a corner very surprising maybe Tugay is grooming this guy. Two breaks by Middlesbrough first Ooijer getting skinned by Johnson and giving a silly free kick. Then again Johnson having a long range shot deflected just wide. A few things typified the first half though MGP wasting corners the keeping catching most of them. Also in the first ten minutes Warnock having a throw waiting for some movement still getting none and throwing long to RSC and just going out for a goal kick.

Second half still not that much improved a replay of Wednesday night Tugay with a beautiful ball over the top to RSC and chested down but given handball against this time. Middlesbrough now only really showing a threat through the counter they played a long ball to Alves his pass and strength caused the Admiral to struggle and he had to resort to a foul and a yellow (could have been worse). Rovers started to threaten and had a good shout for a penalty long throw by Pedersen into the box and Riggot was all over Samba, but nothing give. I don`t get why we don`t use this tactic more often Pedersen has a good throw and it always causes confusion look at it last season against Man Utd. I think that could be a good weapon. Good to see Dunn back and he had a good volley blocked from the edge of the area. Then came the final chance of the game and it ended to Roberts header six yards out bottom left corner and a great save. But really Roberts should be getting those ones. Sunderland, Bolton earlier in the season could have six more points if he had taken those chances. Bit harsh but I think Benni and Roque would have finished that chance.

In a season where anyone in the bottom half could get relegated, we find ourselves 18th due to another 0-0 draw which really we could have won. With our old manager Hughes not doing any favours for us losing to Stoke. I think the introduction of Diouf will give us that flair we are missing and his ability to be a match winner. I think he could be the difference between a 0-0 and 1-0 to Rovers. So bring on Dioufy I say and I hope he gets the support he deserves even though I thought he was scum previously he deserves his chance and you cannot deny his quality.

Player Ratings

Robinson – 6
Got a clean sheet so always good, but didn`t really have to make a save.

Ooijer – 6
Can see his pass is an issue doesn`t offer much attacking wise and can really tell he is a centre back playing at right back. Also I think Southgate saw Ooijer as a weakness today.

Samba – 7
Solid performance again and looked an attacking threat for us in the final stages.

Nelsen – 8
A leader and really good had to deal with some pass but used his experience well and lead by example. Another clean sheet for him and his defence.

Warnock – 7
Looked good attacking wise and maybe pushed on a bit too much. Definitely had his tail up after his goal on Wednesday, and played much better defensively too.

Emerton 7
Another hard performance from him but shame about the injury didn`t really have the final ball today though. Might be seeing him to right back in a few weeks time.

Andrews 6
Another solid performance gave his all till the injury I think he does lack in that bit of quality but makes up for it in work rate.

Grella 7
Well another good performance and he can pass. Gave away a silly foul in the first half on the edge of our area but I think he showed he is the Axe but he can pass and shoot today. Very nice take on the volley in the first half.

Pedersen 6
Largely ineffectual again, I wish we would utilise his throws more. Maybe Diouf will add that competition on the left wing, he does need to step up his game though. Maybe knocked by confidence after a very poor performance on Wednesday where he was just bullied off the ball.

McCarthy 7
Good effort but didn`t really get the service he deserves today. Maybe a bit tired after Wednesday.

Santa Cruz 7
Gave the effort but still missing his touch really, but that will come with match practice. I think he should stay on for the season now.

Tugay 7
Came on I think he was just too tired, looked composed but wasn`t as magical but I don`t think his teammates were making space or runs for themselves.

Dunn 7
Came on and looked very good please just stay fit we do need you. Unlucky with his shot and I think he has the ability to be a match winner in games like this.

Villa at Home next week
Came on and was his usually direct self. Should have scored that header I think as the other two strikers would off. Had a shout for a penalty and unlucky to be dropped.

Manager Rating
Well another clean sheet and another point. Maybe going out a bit too defensively I don`t think the players have learnt the art of Big Sam style 1-0 victories it will come though. Maybe next time just push up a bit more.

– Grella`s overall performance cannot wait till this man is up to speed.

– RSC looking motivated and that he will try for Rovers. Just needs that match practice and a goal.

– Two injuries to Emerton and Andrews fingers crossed not too bad.

– Too many long balls and not looking comfortable on the ball to pass it around. This happened especially in the first half and players not moving as much as they should for each other.

Villa at Home next week
I am inviting Adrian to share his thoughts and feelings on Villa at home next time out.


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