After back to back losses, Blues looked to pitch up their first win at St Andrews since October, as Aitor Karanka’s ex club Middlesbrough came to town. Neil Warnock’s got his side at the opposite end of the table this season and his sides are always difficult to break down, so Blues had a real task ahead of them today.
The early encounters consisted of both sides just trying to ease their way into the game, neither really dominating the ball for a large spell. However, the first real opener fell to Hogan, but his header from Bela’s delivery went agonisingly wide. Neither side were exchanging real blows to each other, with Boro’s only threat looking like a ball over the top and a mix up between Dean and Etheridge.
Out of nowhere, Blues did manage to break the deadlock. Bela, with some tricky footwork out wide, managed to shift the ball onto his right and deliver a ball into the box, after the ball was allowed to bounce around Colin dispatched an effort into the roof of the net.
Boro seemed to be a bit stunned from that goal and found it hard to get a grip of the game, whilst Bela was having a field day on that left hand side and feeding Hogan at any given opportunity, the latter had a great chance saved by the Boro keeper to keep the score at 1-0.
Blues Achilles heel was on show again, as the defence switched off and allowed Assombalonga to get his complimentary goal against us. Completely against the run of play, but how many times have we seen this before? Just shy of 5 minutes later, Blues fall asleep again and Boro added a 2nd. Clayton who was completely ball watching, allowed Saville to nip in and tuck the ball away.
All the energy Blues had shown previously seemed to be sapped before them and Boro were more than happy to do their job off the ball and allow Blues to come at them. They were comfortable allowing Blues possession. Blues were 2-1 down at the interval.
Some much needed energy was installed into the Blues team at the break, with Sunjic and Kieftenbeld coming in for San José and Clayton.
Similar to the first half, both teams seemed very cagey within the first 5 or so minutes, however Boro had a half chance from distance which brought Etheridge to make a routine save. However, the recent heroics we’ve seen from the stopper were not on display as an in-swinging Boro corner went straight through his hands and into the back of the net. 1-3 and real task on our hands to get back into this game.
Karanka made 3 further subs to try and get something sparked, but the 2nd half just seemed to disappear rapidly and Blues faded.
To add further insult to injury and kick Etheridge’s confidence into the new year – a strike from distance got underneath him and bounced up into the roof of the net.
4 individual errors leading to 4 goals. Game over.
Miserable afternoon after a bright start meant 3 losses on the bounce for Blues and those 2 wins against Bristol City and Reading seem little more than a distant memory.
Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC
Terrible afternoon for someone who’s been so reliable this season. At fault for the 3rd and the 4th is one he saves comfortably if his confidence wasn’t shot to bits.
Took his goal beautifully but that’s about all we have to shout about.
Not at the races at all and never looked comfortable throughout the game. Assombalonga had the better of him and Dean every time.
Same as Roberts, failed to keep Assombalonga quiet and was given the run around all afternoon. Shades of last season.
Feel like I’m repeating myself, terrible and last seasons form is creeping in again.
Not go the legs to play in a middle 2 and was substituted accordingly.
Didn’t look anywhere near ready to start a game of championship football. Same as MSJ hooked at half time. At fault for their 2nd by ball watching and allowing Saville to get in front of him.
Looked bright inside the first 20 minted and thought he was going to run their right back ragged, but dropped as soon as Boro took their 2nd.
Same as Bela, looked bright at the start of the game and then just died like the rest of the team. At fault for their first goal due to switching off and allowing his man in behind.
I honestly don’t think he had more than 10 touches of the ball, but it’s hard to get anything going when your team are nowhere near good enough.
Looked lively during the first exchanges and could have easily added a 2nd before their equaliser. After that pretty non-existent.