Monday, 24 August 2009

Boro march on

Another Championship fixture brought three more points and a fourth successive clean sheet for Boro. Gareth Southgate's side rarely had to work to ease to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers at the Riverside. The win took Boro to the top of the table for 24 hours before Cardiff thumped next Saturday's opponents Bristol City.

The developing partnership between Leroy Lita and Marvin Emnes was interrupted early on during the game. After a bright start, the Dutchman was stretchered off after being clattered by Rovers keeper Neil Sullivan. The ex-Wimbledon veteran must have considered to himself fortunate that his recklessness was punished with only a yellow card.

It was Emnes' replacement who made the breakthrough for the home side. Tuncay ran onto Lita's deft flick to fire confidently into the bottom corner.

Neither side managed to build any attacking momentum on a warm summer's afternoon. The visitors enjoyed their fair share of possession but their attacks floundered on the imperturbable partnership of Robert Huth and David Wheater.

For their own part, despite the occasional glimpse of class from Tuncay and Adam Johnson, Boro struggled to create a great deal of chances. However, any fears of a Doncaster comeback ended with twenty minutes remaining, when Lita controlled Tony McMahon's cross smartly before blasting the ball past Sullivan from close range. Lita earned a yellow card for his enthusiastic celebrations, a nonplussed Tuncay trotting some thirty yards behind carrying the discarded no.9 shirt

It was not a performance to quite dispel all the concerns over the ongoing difficulty to achieve attacking fluency at home. Nonetheless, it was a largely positive afternoon. Despite an often underwhelming display, Boro still won comfortably. The defence, led impeccably by Robert Huth, looks a class above at this level. Adam Johnson looks confidence and the early indications are that Danny Coyne and Mark Yeates are solid additions to the squad.

Nottingham Forest tomorrow night could well prove a stiffer challenge, even if Billy Davies' side have not started the season as well as had been expected. With the heavy 46 game schedule in full swing, Gareth Southgate may well be tempted to use some fringe players with Saturday's game at Bristol City in mind. His side have started well - only 42 more games to go...

Video highlights of Saturday's game here (UK only!)

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