CITY 1-0 BORO; THE REVIEW

17/09/18

An excellent performance and win in the Carrow Road sunshine, inspired by academy full-backs and a potential new cult hero. Re-live a glorious afternoon courtesy of the excellent Ffion Thomas.

Biggest Positive

Sticking to a style of football that suited the game, given that anything launched forward to our diminutive forward line against Boro's giants was simply going to come straight back, as was proved at times in the first half. We stuck to the plan and it was a phase of quick, inventive passing in the final third that finally opened up a bit of space with Teemu Pukki, on a fast train to cult hero status, keeping his head once again.

Moment of the match

While we defended valiantly, particularly given the defensive reshuffle this week after Hanley's injury, losing Timm Klose for the last 10 minutes might well have been an ask too far to hang on to the 1-0 lead. Well done to the linesman for his great spot - and his comic timing. Who needs VAR?

Random star performer

Lots of great performances in this game - Mo Leitner and Tim Krul in particular stood out, having been dealt some criticism this season -- but the biggest hand should go to Max Aarons. Only 18 years old and with no senior experience before this season, he's been thrown in at the deep end but demonstrated confidence and intelligence both in defence and further up the pitch, making the clever dash into the box that unlocked the Boro backline for Pukki's goal. With Jamal Lewis starring as the other full-back, it's great to see academy players being given their chance and taking it.

Weekly whinge

Not much to moan about here - perhaps we could have finished the job with one of the late counter-attacks which got shut down, but understandably after an afternoon's running Hernandez and others looked out on their feet as an outlet by the closing stages.

Farke watch

This was a big win, not only to take the pressure off after an indifferent start to the season, but also to remind everyone of the potential of Farkeball when it all clicks.

Atmosphere

A bit of first half grumbling at some ponderous passing in defence, but which was silenced as it became increasingly clear that it was a style that when mixed up a bit in pace and direction was going to win us the game. Nervous tension made the long six minutes of injury time surprisingly quiet, but there were smiling faces of both relief and belief at the end with what was a fully deserved three points. This weather can stick around, too - shirtsleeves all round in mid-September.

Summary

The best wins are always the most unexpected. Middlesbrough hadn't conceded a league goal since the 37th minute of their first game of the season, including against the division's top scorers Leeds and West Brom in their most recent two games - and in this one they were very well organised, for the most part reducing us to shots from distance. But we managed to find a way through and then nullify their attacking threat, with Jonny Howson a notable passenger. All in all, great stuff from front to back.

We now face a hectic period of six games in three weeks, four of them away from home, but all look very winnable if we can replicate these performance levels.

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