Middlesbrough v Cardiff City Match Report

By Yousef Haider.
In this season of festive cheer, the F.A have given us a christmas hamper with a genuine 6 pointer inside to send us into the final week of xmas stress, I mean xmas cheer!

At the start of the season not many people expected middlesbrough to be where they are. Riding high at the business end of the table. Then again at the end of last season, it was this very fixture that ended city's hopes of finishing 2nd and gaining automatic promotion to the Premier League. That match ended in a surprise defeat, something of a thrashing and the rest is history, but no-one was expecting that either. Boro kicked on from there and carried that form into this season, and swansea got promoted to the Premiership, where they play fellow "promotee's" Newcastle today in a match which could also be seen as a 6 pointer.

However this really is a classic 6 point scenario. 3rd vs 4th, level on points with only 4 goals the difference which saw the home side start the match in a superior position. 

Joe ralls started his 2nd consecutive league match in a largely familiar line up and the match started superbly.

Action at both ends of the pitch, with cardiff having 3 or four genuine chances within the first 10 minutes.

The crowd was full, although the away stand was looking more bare than the average wallet at xmas time. 

On 13 minutes, unlucky for some, it was unlucky for Kevin McNaughton who seemed to be, quite clearly fouled by the keeper in the box, but corner given, and barely a minute later, another foul, another roar from the crowd, another denial from the ref. 

Less than another minute later, boro broke away, Bart Ogbeche hit a speculative shot, which took a cruel deflection and bent perfectly around goalkeeper David Marshall. 1-0 to boro, or as the crowd preferred to sing, "1-0, to the referee".

The match was high octane, and the crowd were in great voice. The match had an edge to it with the crowd only adding to it, and with the referee's decisions making things worse, he was in danger of losing control of the game.

22 minutes in and a corner is awarded to cardiff. Must have been our lucky minute. 

The corner flew into the box near post. Miller headed it to the far post and the huge frame of Ben Turner steamed on the end of it and powered in his first goal for Cardiff. 1-1

Amazingly, this match was living up to its billing, in the crowd and on the pitch. The crowd knew how crucial this was, and so did both sets of player. After 28 minutes there was still barely time to blink, and you couldn't hear yourself think. Incident after incident, attacks, saves, fouls, it was a belter.

The weather had been terrible all morning but it seemed that out of respect it would make way ever so slightly. The wind and wet subsided but the cold remained. 

Just a little after half time Joe ralls had to come off, and was replaced by Filip Kiss.

2 minutes before half time, Cardiff broke quickly. Kenny miller was making a mazy run forward, but being tracked well by two defenders. 

There was nowhere for him to go, but he dragged them both out wide, and tried for a back heel towards Gunnarson. The ball made its way to the middle of the box where an unmarked Gunnarson finished expertly as we are becoming used to, and took Cardiff into half time, in the lead. 


The second half started, and in the first, Cardiff looked well worth the lead, they scored two goals without reply after going one down, and had a number of close calls, including the penalty claim. 

With everything at stake, the next goal was vital, surely if boro could get the game to 2-2, they would be happy with a draw. Cardiff had to score next.

Unfortunatley, they didn't. 

Cardiff were still very much the dominant team, although boro did seem to come out with some more bite. A couple of passes were being rushed, and there was less build up and a bit of hoof ball going on from Cardiff. This prompted Gunnarson to turn to his team and gesture several times, fanning his arms and mouthing at his players to "calm down, calm down".

Moments later, middlesbrough broke from nothing and Justin Hoyte put a ball across goal which was rammed home with ease by Scott Mcdonald, past a helpless Marshall. 


They didn't seem happy to settle for a draw, and again Hoyte put a good cross in from the right to be headed out emphatically by Kiss for a corner. 

The corner was safely defended, but Cardiff needed to find the shape and passing that had fared them so well in the first half.

Miller again broke forward, playing up front alone, he continually had to bring his midfield into play, which he has done very effectively. 

This time he laid the ball backwards to Peter wittingham who struck a vicious shot at goalkeeper Jason steele who again saved but spilled the shot. 

Manager Malky Mackay then completed the 2nd and 3rd of his substitution allowance, as Cowie and Conway came off and Mason and Gestede came on.

It looks like Miller will be getting some company up front.

Mason and Gestede instantly made contributions. Gestede heading a corner away from our goal, and Mason linking up will deep in midfield in a good move that ended up going for a goal kick. 

A free kick from deep was hit towards Gestede which he successfully won, again not ending up In any thing, but a possible indicator of the reasoning behind the subs.

With the match on a knife edge, this was a time for concentration and determination, Mackay understandably made attacking substitutions, but in defence Ben Turner, who scored earlier on, made two consecutive howlers, the second one leading in middlesbrough's Faris Haroun scoring the easiest goal of his career and they now led.


We knew this match was a six pointer, but now for Cardiff to have a merry christmas, they would need this game to be at least a six "goaler" as well.

The tables had well and truly turned and boro seemed to be shooting and creating chances at will. 

The Cardiff players seemed to have taken a massive blow to their confidence and with all substitutions made, inspiration would have to come from somewhere on the pitch.

8 minutes left on the clock and a free kick was awarded. Peter Wittingham, tried to take it but middlesbrough were trying to waste as much time as possible. He eventually stepped up, hit it sweetly, it went up and over the wall, dipped just to the right height and curled, just wide of the post. 

6 minutes to go, and a guilt edged chance fell finally to Kenny Miller who had worked as hard as I've seen any striker work without getting a shot for his effort. Maybe that lack of practice led to him completely missing the ball, but there was no goal for him.

Middlesbrough went into time wasting overload, and Andrew Taylor didn't like it. He was getting into a lot of confrontations and down at our own corner time wasting tactics led to a free kick. Robson then stood in Taylor's way so he kicked the ball straight at him and paced behind him whispering what didn't like sweet nothings. Yellow card for Robson.

It looked like Taylor was the most upset person on the pitch, and it took its toll, after numerous spats, an opportunity came up and he took it. He slid fiercely in on Scott Mcdonald, sending him flying into the advertising hoardings. While he lay there possibly in agony, but possibly wasting time, Taylor had a few choice words for him, and he received not a christmas card, but a yellow card.

5 minutes of added time were announced and they were just action packed as the regulation 90 minutes.

Another penalty claim, again for a foul on McNaughton, and even a corner for which Dave Marshall was asked by McNaughton to join in the attack for. Always a moment that causes excitement but today no goal at either end from it. A wasted trip upfield for Marshall, and a wasted trip for Cardiff city fans as the full time whistle blew and the match was over.

Cardiff dropped down two places as a result of this, and have now only taken 1 point from the last six with an away draw to an average at best millwall and a loss to a much better middlesbrough side, even though they were not at their best today.

I'm at a loss to why or how Cardiff managed to lose today, they were the better side throughout with all 3 of boro's chances seemingly coming from nothing.

However it is now down to Mackay to pick his team up and get on with the task at hand. 

Maybe bringing in a striker or a winger in the transfer window which is due to open soon.


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