Middlesbrough hosted Championship new comers Sheffield United in today’s late kickoff. Boro were looking for their first win of the season after they narrowly lost on the opening day to a much-improved Wolves side.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, were looking to pick up their second win of the season after beating Brentford 1-0 on the opening day. The Blades, who were unbeaten since January, were also looking for a club record nine wins in a row.
However, unfortunately for Sheffield, Middlesbrough looked a much better side today with the front three of Middlesbrough causing huge problems for the United defence.
The first half was very much all about Boro. United did start of lively with Fleck making a few dangerous runs into the Boro box. But for the majority of the half, Middlesbrough controlled the game. Assombalonga, Bamford and Gestede were a real nuisance up front and this would eventually lead to Boro taking the lead in the 20th minute through a Ruddy Gestede header.
Sheffield United did grow into the game in the second half. However, they didn’t create any real clear cut chances until the 92nd minute when O’Connell had the ball in the back of the net but the linesman flagged for offside.
Bamford back to his best
Patrick Bamford has always been a fan favourite at Middlesbrough since his loan spell back in 2014/15. After leaving Boro in 2015 though he has struggled for form. Bamford has had loan spells at Burnley, Norwich and Crystal Palace. All of which weren’t great as he failed to score a single goal at all three clubs.
He has now signed for Boro permanently and after failing to make an impression in the Premier League he looks to be discovering his old form under Garry Monk.
Bamford had a great game today, especially in the first half. Middlesbrough’s front three were very much interchanging positions all game. But Bamford primarily dropped the deepest sitting behind Gestede and Assombalonga.
This was a role Middlesbrough really needed to find someone for after the departure of Gaston Ramirez and Bamford looks to be that man. He was creating a lot when he was in the CAM position and was a real problem for United. Bamford also got the assist for Boro’s only goal of the game. He sent a good ball over the top to Gestede and after United failed to clear it Gestede headed over Blackman.
Overall Bamford looked sharp, creative and very much the player he was for Middlesbrough back in the 2014/15 season. Hopefully, now that he looks to be finding form again, he can start scoring like he did last time he was at Boro.
Sheffield United’s disallowed goal.
After a tight, hard fought game Sheffield United will feel very aggrieved to be not coming away with at least a point from today’s game. The Blades put pressure on Boro all game, although they didn’t create too many chances.
However, in injury time, United had a free kick in a dangerous position. The ball was played into the box and centre back O’Connell headed the ball towards goal. It took a deflection off Boro’s Dael Fry and Sheffield looked to have snuck an injury time equaliser.
Unfortunately for United fans, the linesman deemed O’Connell to be offside and the goal didn’t stand. The decision was very close and it could have easily been given to United.
Also, if the goal had stood, as it should have, questions would have been raised as to why Boro had not won the game earlier in the match. Especially in the first half when Gestede had a chance for a second. But he hit the post.
Christie was one of Boro’s cheaper signings this window moving from Derby County for a fee of around £2.5 million. Despite his low price tag, he is certainly impressing for Boro.
Boro have struggled to find a decent right back in recent years. Antonio Barragan was their main option last season. But he struggled to even take throw-ins so he wasn’t great. Prior to that Emanuel Ensue was Boro’s first choice. Like Barragan though he wasn’t great.
Now, however, Middlesbrough seem to have finally found a great right back. Christie was a real handful down the right-hand side. He was constantly taking on defenders. He has blistering pace and most importantly he put in some really good crosses against Sheffield United. One of which fell to Gestede who hit the post, even though a man of his quality in the air probably should have scored.
Either way, Christie was very impressive today and he will now hopefully produce performances like that every week.
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