The ACN Match Review – Middlesbrough (a)


And we’re back once again with the retrograde masters. Nick Hayhoe slowly peels his fingers from his eyes, un-presses the red button and thinks about all the times sport hurt him.

The line-up

We’re now so far into the business end of the season that it’s ready to float on the stock exchange. Therefore, barring injuries, if this isn’t our strongest XI by now, I’m not sure what to tell ya.

The atmosphere

Wasn’t at the game tonight, Neil, but watched it via the Sky Red Button.

A weird experience at the best of times, with its single camera and commentator, not helped further by a picture quality that looked like someone had smeared Vaseline on the camera lens and a sound mix so bad I genuinely thought my TV’s speakers had broken. I heard football supporters, I think, and that’s about all I can say.  

Hurrah moment

[opens up any other review from this season]



We were massively on top for most of the first half, but then completely capitulated when things got tough. A nice/well-taken/hilariously shit goal by [insert name of player], though.

Boo-urns moment

Et tu, Jonny? Then fall, Borja. 

A 50-50 challenge left both players on the floor, with Sainz spinning himself around, legs flailing in that way we’ve all done when sitting on the floor, and he brushed Howson’s leg with his boot. That was it. That was all it was. After watching it many times now, I am sure that was all it was.

Howson then grabs his thigh, as if someone has fired a crossbow bolt into it, and shows the gaping, bloody wound to the referee. The referee buys it, perhaps even considering applying a tourniquet to save Jonny’s leg from this horror, before sending Sainz off.

This was a proper fall-to-knees-and-scream moment. Jonny Howson, saver of birds and darling of that Norwich team, reduced to this shithousery. 

Truly we cannot trust anyone. Truly we are in the end times. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a fake limp.

Norwich then crumbled like my U-15 cricket team after dropping our first catch. Then another. And then another. Before long, it was 400-2 after 40 overs, and we were staring at each other, arguing, and blaming the person who dropped the first catch (me, probably) for what had happened.

Any sports psychologists in the vicinity of Middlesbrough would have had an absolute field day.  

Hero of the match

After the Howson incident, I’m now suffering an existential crisis because there are, perhaps, indeed, no more heroes. Whatever happened to dear old Lenny? The great Elmyra, and Sancho Panza?

Got shot down in the mid-table of the Championship on a Wednesday evening, that’s what. 

Our post-match takeaway

Something really weird happened after the sending off; the Norwich players and bench really seemed to be giving Sainz the “what have you done, you fool!” look for what we’ve already established was not a red card. This blame game is quite uncomfortable, especially when one considers that, if nothing else, this season has at least seen a fairly healthy amount of squad togetherness. If that goes, then Wagner will really have nothing else to fall back on.

Okay, sure, still all to play for? Well, I guess so. But we have only won four (4) away games this season. Four. If we get into the playoffs, or even go up, with that sort of away record then it will be something to rival Nicola Murray becoming the Leader of the Opposition in The Thick Of It because of a technicality. Considering a team will almost certainly miss out on automatic this season with a record points total, we’d probably need 24/7 police protection for such a heist.

Anyway, never fear! A big win at home against Rotherham on Saturday and we can do this exhausting cycle of boom and immediate bust all over again. Can’t wait!


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