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Rovers 2 Middlesbrough 2


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Walking down Bolton Road at around 2pm it was noticeable that there were a number of families venturing down to Ewood, with many a youngster dressed in their newly acquired replica shirts, scarf’s and caps. Whilst the kids were bouncing with excitement there was a noticeable sense of concern in the faces of the adult population, whether this was due to the heavy rain grey clouds or an anticipated defeat for the team was difficult to comprehend; what was certain was the comments and raised eyebrows that occurred when the team was announced.

It was evident following comments by Souness after the Villa defeat, that there may be changes, especially knowing that Mahon had been re-called from Ipswich, but many were taken aback by Souness’s team selection. The out of form Gresko who wasn’t even named as a substitute, was replaced by Johansson and Cole was dropped to the bench, with Yorke and Gallagher starting up front. With Tugay dropped to the bench, team captain Flitcroft was recalled to partner Ferguson in the centre of midfield and Lucas Neill took up the left midfield role, ahead of the natural left sided Mahon who was named as a substitute. To the amazement of many Taylor was brought in for Short, however later it was found that this selection was due to Short being ill and not for tactical reasons.

With the wind and rain driving across Ewood, Rovers attacked the Darwen End laying siege to the Middlesbrough goalmouth gaining three continuous corners, which resulted in Rovers taking the lead three minutes into the game. Babbel got well above the Boro defence to powerfully head Emerton's corner beyond the Boro keeper. With Rovers in total command and Boro’s defence in disarray they nearly got a second within five minutes when Tiny Taylor saw his header come back off the inside of the post.

Rover’s dominance was however short lived when Boro equalised in the thirtieth  minute, with a counter-attack after Yorke lost possession. A through ball from Ricketts allowed Juninho in who made no mistake in placing the ball into the corner of the goalmouth.

Half time 1-1.

With little threat from the forward line, and very few chances being created Souness made changes at half time; bringing on Cole for Yorke and Mahon for Johansson, allowing Neill to drop in to the left back position. However within five minutes of the second half kicking off Boro took the lead through Juninho. After he collected a clearance from Schwarzer and bent his long range shot past Friedel.

With Boro now in total command of the game, Rovers threats were limited to a Mahon powerful shot going inches wide of the post and a Mahon cross into the area that Cole just failed to get his head to.

With time running out Rovers gained their fourteenth corner of the afternoon in injury time. With both teams en camped in the Boro penalty area, including Friedel, Rover’s grasped an equaliser when Babbel converted Emerton's corner from close range.

Full time 2-2

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