Blackburn Rovers discovered that they won’t have it all their own way this season in the Championship as Steve Kean’s men slumped to a 2-1 defeat by Middlesbrough at Ewood Park. So far this season for Rovers, it has been a game of second halves with eight of their 14 goals coming in the second period, however there was to be no second half rebellion on Friday night. Their performance was well below par as Boro were deserving winners for the first time this season. Before the loss, the Blue and White Army had been enjoying an excellent start to their domestic campaign, but inside seven minutes, much of their hard work was undone by a well-taken goal from Lukas Jutkiewicz. The Championship can be a cruel mistress at times, and Kean’s men learned that the hard way. As for Middlesborough, they managed to end their miserable away run against the leaders of the nPower which should give them some much-needed confidence.
At half-time, as Rovers trailed 1-0, the boos were clearly audible around Ewood Park as the home support expressed their dissatisfaction. However, aside from Friday night, it has been a promising start to the season for captain Danny Murphy and company, heading into the Boro encounter unbeaten in the nPower Championship after seven matches. When the second goal, which completed a brace for Jutkiewicz, went in, chants of “Kean out” emanated from one section of the stadium. In truth, the fans were right to display their feelings so strongly. Kean’s choice of tactics were questionable to say the least as he forced his wide midfielders out to the touchline, creating large gaps in the middle of the park, which Boro ruthlessly exploited. Although, the Riversiders will need to improve for their next outing if they intend on winning their first major trophy in eleven years.
Mustapha Carayol dazzled the crowd with his trickery and skill, and he caused several problems for Blackburn’s right-back, Stephen Orr. Although he failed to get his name on the score sheet, he did get an assist for their second goal and he will have been happy with his display. After signing for Boro from Bristol City at the beginning of August, Carayol will be looking to cement his place in the starting line-up and he certainly did his chances no harm on Friday night. One of his best opportunities came at the start of the second half, when he beat two defenders down the wing before cutting inside only to have his shot parried by Blackburn goalkeeper, Paul Robinson and, eventually, cleared off the line. Carayol should be a joy to watch over the course of the season if he continues to cause defences this sort of trouble.
The north-eastern club looked revitalised and refreshed as they swept aside Blackburn with relative ease. Although they did have to endure a nervy 25 minute barrage from Rovers’ attack, with chances falling to Nuno Gomes, Dickson Etuhu and Jordan Rhodes, Boro’s defence coped well enough with the onslaught. Rovers did, however, get a goal back through Grant Hanley in the 88th minute, but it was too little too late for them. The win lifts Middlesborough up to sixth place for now, and the result reminds us that it is a long and exciting season for these clubs and it is still very early days in the Championship. In short, anything can happen between now and May.
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