Missed chances and atypical defending: Frustration lingers as Middlesbrough lose to Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.
It looked to be a promising game as Middlesbrough dominated the opening stages of the match.
In the 14th minute, Marvin Johnson put Middlesbrough in the lead after swiftly driving the ball past Ryan Schofield. However, this should have been Boro’s second goal of the afternoon.
Some brilliant play between Jonny Howson, George Saville, and Marcus Tavernier led the Boro to find open space in the final third and spray the ball over to Johnson who diverted it nicely across the goal. From all of two yards, Britt Assombalonga somehow put it over.
Thankfully this didn’t look costly as just three minutes later Johnson sealed his place at the top of Middlesbrough’s scorecard with his fourth goal of the season. Tavernier did a great job of keeping hold of the ball just long enough for Johnson to overlap. Tav played it into his path and Johnson slipped it under the keeper with a fantastic finish.
Until the 35th minute Middlesbrough were typically tight at the back, and there were never any chances as clear as Assombalonga’s in the opening. Then, unlike the rest of Boro’s season so far, things went somewhat pear-shaped at the back.
Huddersfield had quick and steady movement on the ball enabling Carel Eiting to direct it straight through the crowded penalty area and past an unsighted, poorly positioned Marcus Bettinelli. The home side were level with their first shot of the game.
The last 10 minutes of the first-half saw even more uncharacteristic play from the Boro.
Middlesbrough lost possession near the halfway line allowing Fraizer Campbell to break out and head for the goal. He completely wrong-footed Bettinelli and evaded the challenge of Dael Fry before striking it into the back of the net on the 45th minute.
Right on the stroke of half-time, the game had totally flipped and Boro were trailing 2-1.
Half-time: Huddersfield Town 2 – 1 Middlesbrough
The second half of the match showed even more unrecognisable play from Middlesbrough. Lack of possession and ability to keep hold of the ball was enough to suggest that this match was well and truly over the Teesside team.
Huddersfield’s Campbell and Josh Koroma had plenty of pace and looked threatening whenever they had the chance to get forward.
Boro, however, never regained their momentum from the first third of the game, they tried desperately and were unusually sloppy.
Warnock went 4-4-2 with 25 minutes, sacrificing Tavernier to get Chuba Akpom closer to Assombalonga. Unfortunately, this didn’t add much to the away side.
With only 10 minutes remaining, we saw Paddy McNair come within inches of the goal when he sent a free-kick just over the top.
Faith was restored as Boro came level moments later. Assombalonga was brought down in the box by Naby Sarr and granted a penalty. He stepped up to the convert and made it 2-2 with just seven minutes remaining.
The chances of bagging a point were crushed less than a minute later when Koroma managed to grab himself an opening in the box and send the ball way beyond Bettenelli’s reach. The Terriers were ahead once more.
Johnson had one last chance to get the Boro back level, but his volley was beaten away by Schofield.
Ultimately, this game was messy and out of character for the Middlesbrough side.
Full-time: Huddersfield Town 3 – 2 Middlesbrough