Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough – Closer than you’d think

What a rollercoaster ride that was eh? Thankfully, we managed to avoid the upset the BBC were hoping for, but only just.

With Lee Dong Gook scoring only his second goal in two seasons for us, I actually began to feel sorry for Mansfield. There was nothing good about that goal – an average cross from Johnson, a mishit from Wheater, and a lucky strike from the Korean was all it took to put the Stags behind after 17 minutes.

It was strange… I really wanted us to either score a second very quickly, or Mansfield to equalise – losing solely to a Dong Gook goal would be embarrassing. Even winning by a Dong Gook goal wouldn’t be a particularly proud moment for us.

And then that incident with Huth… well, we already had bets as to who would be sent off first (I had my money on the fiery South American temper of Rochemback), but having looked at Huth’s challenge several times, it was horrendous. You couldn’t have argued if the referee had decided it was a red.

Fair enough, the German nutter did get the ball on the way, but he also got most of Michael Boulding’s lower intestine. To top it all, there was a certain element of ‘kung-fu’ about the whole thing.

I can’t wait until the day Huth partners Pogatetz in defence… I would doubt anyone will be safe from their wild challenges.

Mind, if Huth had managed to injure Boulding (who ironically almost joined Boro in 2002) with a good stud to his bladder, it might have made the game a bit easier. His first long range effort certainly wasn’t that of a League 2 striker, while his header from the resulting corner rolled back the years for Schwarzer, making a save reminiscent of how he performed in seasons past. Definitely a keeper who savours the cup matches.

It wasn’t until late on in the game that we finally showed some Premiership credentials, a decent run from Downing, a clever little pass from Rocky, and a great cross-shot from Boateng (who seems to be the new right winger – we really need some cover for O’Neil) saw Buxton turn the ball into his own net.

It would have been nice if we could have scored it – although no angle was conclusive, Boateng’s ball may have crossed the line by itself, and even if it hadn’t, top scorer Downing was loitering with intent.

And he needs the goals to hang on to his title of top scorer seeing as how David Wheater, on the brink of signing a new deal, has very nearly caught up.

That new contract for Wheater almost certainly spells the end of the road for Jonathan Woodgate. He has been out of sorts this season, shown up by Wheater, Huth and Pogatetz, so if we can make a profit, fantastic business. Spurs are the most likely destination as Keegan’s week worsens – being rejected first by Toon legend Shearer, and now missing out on a fans favourite defender who could possibly fill a gap in his shite defence.

So, a perfect win for us. A moderately controlling performance, 2 goals, a clean sheet, and no major injury worries. Perfect preparation for the important Premiership tie against the Latics next week.

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  1. Me 26 January, 2008
  2. Tom Sharp 27 January, 2008