Middlesbrough 1-1 Millwall: Daily Mirror match report
Published 21:50 16/10/11 By Simon Bird
Tony Mowbray’s Boro are in a spell where no one can work out whether they’ll push on strongly and be promotion contenders... or not.
The evidence is so contradictory that the ups and downs of the Teessiders will be fascinating to follow.
On the up-side, the Riverside Stadium’s neighbour, the famous landmark Transporter Bridge, 100 years old this year, hadn’t been built the last time they started a season with 11 unbeaten league games.
Add to that the fact that Rhys William’s unlucky own goal was the first conceded by the rock solid Boro defence in nine hours of football, dating back to August.
That all seems to bubble up into a certain promotion challenge.
But look deeper and Barry Robson’s opener, that should have been enough to clinch all the points but for a spirited second half fight-back by Millwall, was their first goal in 5hrs 20 minutes of play in the league.
And while Boro remain in third place after this draw, they have only won once in front of their home supporters, a record that has severely hampered their progress.
Mowbray also knows he needs to get Aussie striker Scott McDonald, who’s netted once this season, in the goals again. He hit the bar and had a volley well saved here, but scuffs too many chances from 20 yards out.
Mowbray has Boro’s position well in perspective and settled for saying they have a decent “platform” to build on. But will they score “70-80-90” required of automatic promotion candidates?
Robson, a reliable performer, summed up: “It is hard to explain the home results. We are playing alright and creating chances. We are just not sticking it in the net although we have not let in too many goals either.
“Goals will come for us. There is no panic from anyone. We are 11 games into the season, a long way to go, and we are still up there in the table. We need to be a bit more clinical. You can see we are creating chances and looking dangerous.
“We taking something from the unbeaten record, it is all right. But then you think about all those drawn games that we could have won. We could have been out of sight by now.”
Robson is backing McDonald to start firing: “I have absolutely no doubt that he will score plenty for us after all he has scored goals at the highest level. He has scored against top opposition in the Champions League so the Championship is not going to phase him.”
Millwall, in the relegation zone, have something to cling to after their spirited show after the break.
Boss Kenny Jackett, who dropped vice-captain Alan Dunne from the squad: “We have given it a go and taken the goal to them. It was a good fight back a good point and now we have to build on that at home. Win on Tuesday against Brighton and that gets our season going.
“Jay Simpson was a catalyst for us, he got on the ball. It was a good performance from him. I saw a lot of encouragement from him. He got us up the pitch and linked the play better. That made us look like we could score.
“I saw encouraging signs. It would be nice to start scoring some goals. The fans deserve to see some passion and commitment.”