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All Tomorrow's Parties - Middlesbrough Away Report


blandy
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It's always the best journey of the season, for me, Middlesbrough. Not necessarily the best game, or the best away ground, but just the best trip.

The reason why is the scenery on the way and today it was even more beautiful on the way back. The sun's gentle rays alighting in their soft, evening, way on the ancient landscape between the East and West of the country. Lambs with their little black heads trotting and mewling after their shaggy coated mothers in their stone wall enclosed fields, Lapwings twirling and wheeling, like black and white mini-stukas. Crows waiting for fresh road-kill. Marvellous.

I'd set off this warm morning in hope. Hope because of recent better performances and results and hope because Boro seems to be a lucky ground for us. Lucky in that we always seem to play well there, even if we lose.

The Riverside is a similar distance from Lytham as is Villa Park, so, it's not exactly a home game, but it's not to difficult to get to, at all, and with the aforementioned glorious scenery, I got my kicks on the A66 (except the bit with the roadworks, which was a pain - still I should have got up early enough to catch the train, but there you go, another story..).

My arrival in 'Boro was made all the more pleasant by meeting up with PMS from VillaTalk, his lads and Jan. We talked of Blackpool, Edinburgh and Vodka aversion, and last year's tonking of the 'Boro over a couple of drinks and some food and then meandered our merry way to the ground.

It sits there, spaceship like, or maybe just ship-like, on the waste-ground the other side of the A66 from the town centre.

And so to the match itself.

I guess most people will know the result, 3-1 to Villa, and I think it was a fair reflection of play.

The game had started off with both teams playing the ball around nicely, a couple of chances for Villa - Shaun Maloney should really have scored, clean through, but turned instead of taking the ball on, and the chance was gone. He hit another long range effort left footed, which Shwarzer tipped for a corner. Anyway, the play was bright and tidy, neither side had any fear or any massive objective to chase, but it was entertaining. Then Boro were given a free kick about 25 yards or more out. Rochenbach (the announcer said) hit a powerfull shot past the wall, but Tommy was well positioned, and caught the ball half on his chest, half in the crook of his arm....and then let it squirm through and trickle into the goal, at his right hand post.

Some of the maybe 1800 or so Villans cussed and abused, some chanted Tommy's name. Me, I just thought, hey ho, it's team game, all of us need to make up for the error.

And we did. The goal had come after about 20 minutes and by half time we were level. Phil Bardsley, I think, played Gabby through, and his run down the right and subsequent cross found Craig Gardner unmarked in the middle to finish nicely, for his first Villa goal. Gabby's rocket heels and endeavour troubled Boro all game.

With the goal coming just before half time we went for our half time refreshments lifted.

The second half was much more one sided than the first. Villa ran it. The previously slightly tentative Ashley Young and Phil Bardsley improved and the rest of them maintained or lifted what was already a good standard of play.

With each side attacking their own fans we got to see plenty of Villa pressure and skill. While George Boateng is a fine player, he was outplayed in midfield by Stan Petrov and Gareth Barry, ably assisted by Craig Gardner and Ashley Young. All game Martin Laursen and Olly were well in control of the tricky Yakubu and Freddie Bouma has his side sewn up, too.

Perhaps 20 minutes or so into the second half Luke Moore came on for Shaun Maloney to freshen up our control of the game, and within a couple of minutes he was celebrating. A free kick played in by Ashley Young was headed down by Martin Laursen and Luke swiveled and shot past the blameless keeper. Luke looked mighty pleased.

5 minutes later, we were further ahead. Barry picked up the ball, passed nicley to Petrov's good run, Petrov slipped past the defender and shot into the corner. Sweet for Villa, sweet for Stan, and sweet for my friend Yordi (a Bulgarian), next to me, who would collect Stan's shirt after the game.

Despite the sunshine outside, in the shade it was cool, and Villa kept their cool too, to easily see out the rest of the game.

Steven Davis (lively) and later Aaron Hughes had a run out. All was well with the world.

Some marks

Tommy 5 - His distribution of the ball was good, he wasn't that busy, but he did drop a ricket. Still it happens.

Bardsley 5 - Still learning, plenty of time to get the necessary "nouse"

Olly - 8 - Dominant

Martin Laursen 8 - Dominant - the two centre backs were absolutely rock solid.

Freddie - 7. Good

Craig Garner - Worked his socks off, scored a nice goal - 7.5

Stan - Lovely finish, lovely passing. He knows how to run a game when we're on top 7.5

GB - Class, as always - 7.5

Ashley Young - eager, 6.5

Shaun Maloney - 6.5 - another youngster with time on his side.

Gabby - 8 MoTM - Full of it today. A right handful.

Subs - Luke 7 (1 for the goal) - he scored, That's what forwards are there for.

Steve Davis - 7

Aaron Hughes not on for long, 6.

We played keep ball, we passed and moved, we entertained. Let's hope that our tomorrows bring more of the same, but better.

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Great report Pete. I love that journey over the A66, bet it was especially pleasing driving back after that performance. Although I feel your creative juices had begun to dry up slightly once you got to the player scores:

Freddie - 7. Good

No comparisons to lambs gamboling in the fields?!

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Great report Pete. The pleasures of the A66 have escaped me I think, I only remember that part of the world as the flat bit before Scotland.

After reading that, I'm tempted to believe that all is indeed well with the world.

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Thanks folks.

Couple of points

Risso - yep, I ran out of steam in my quest to get it done before my tea. I should really have said that Freddie Bouma controlled his full back position like the dominant Jackdaw ensuring no twig was taken from his nest atop a tree, no juicy morsel of snail or carrion was able to escape his firm and solid hold on proceedings, but I was hungry.

And Scott - Flat!! the flat bit! Pah! The road winds across (and up and down) some mighty fine lumps. It's all hills and valleys, peaks and windswept, er, windy parts. There are these strange circular stone walls, with just a small gap on the leeward side in some of the fields, there are wind turbines lurking just off the M6 and there are sheep. I saw Rabbits and pheasants, village pubs and wooden benches, and er, people in shell suits eating burgers and crisps in lay-bys. The English countryside was in all its glory.

Flat....Good grief.

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After the 8 points from the past 4 games perhaps the doom and gloom mongers will now accept that whilst things have a long way to go all this rubbish abouT relegation was unfounded, as I said 2 months ago. MON knows what he is doing and where he is going we just have to accept that it will take time to put it right.

Remember 'KEEP THE FAITH'

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After the 8 points from the past 4 games perhaps the doom and gloom mongers will now accept that whilst things have a long way to go all this rubbish abouT relegation was unfounded, as I said 2 months ago. MON knows what he is doing and where he is going we just have to accept that it will take time to put it right.

Remember 'KEEP THE FAITH'

Yes, quite. "The doom and gloom mongers" always reminds me of what Sid and Doris Bonkers used to say whenever there were signs of light at Neasden FC - "That'll be one in the eye for the knockers".

'KEEP THE FAITH' the man shouts. I thought we were Aston Villa, not f***ing Celtic.

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