Mogga mugs the Smogmonsters
Saturday 27th September; 15:00
A determined effort from the much-maligned defence of West Brom earned Tony Mowbray`s men a first win at the Riverside in 52 years.
Much like last weekend, the Albion pre-match plan was thrown into disarray by an injury - this time after kick-off, when 40 seconds in Kim Do-Heon, with no opposition players within yards, turned and collapsed on the turf for what looked like a painful ligament injury that needed 5 minutes to get him stretchered off. MacDonald was his replacement.
The woodwork saw most of the action in the first half, with Alves rattling the bar and towering centre-back Jonas Olssen having a header palmed onto the post by Ross Turnbull. Alves had several good chances to break the deadlock but was wasteful in front of goal - at half time Middlesbrough should have been ahead through at least one of his efforts. MacDonald, despite one curling shot the missed on the right had made a negligible impact and so was substituted for Ishmael Miller at half-time.
The substitution paid dividends right away, with Jonathan Greening swinging a dangerous corner into the box on 53 minutes. Turnbull, under pressure from Olssen, made a very poor punch that Miller picked up and turned back into the box - Olssen on hand to fire in via Mido from six yards, and wheel away with jubilation at his first goal in the stripes.
From then on Boro were a team spurred on, and the Albion had the proverbial kitchen sink thrown at them. Enter Scott Carson, who produced a string of truly top-class saves to keep out everything the smogmonster`s could muster. Morrison played his part too - although overall his performance was poor, presumably putting himself under too much pressure in his first match back at his old ground, he made two vital goal-line clearances wither side of Olssen`s decisive strike.
In the last five minutes Carson was at his imperious best, flying low to keep out an Alves free-kick then holding a strong header from David Wheater moments later. Hitting Middlesbrough on the counter, the Albion, despite being second best for most of the afternoon, could have doubled and even trebled the deficit when Miller missed several late chances. The misses did not prove costly, and Albion held on to earn their first away win since Martin Albrechsten scored at the JJB in January 2006.
For the first time this season we were a distinct second best - which makes coming away with the win all the more satisfying. Away from home we have not conceded in 266 minutes since Samir Nasri sucker-punched us on day one. Today, Donk debuted, and after a shaky start grew in stature. A thoroughly good team effort and a hugely satisfying three points.
Scott Carson 9
Gianni Zuiverloon 8
Ryan Donk 7
Jonas Olssen 8
Paul Robinson 7
Borja Valero 7
James Morrison 6
Bob Koren 6
Jonno Greening 7
Kim Do-Heon N/A
Roman Bednar 8
Sherjill MacDonald 4
Ish Miller 5
Marek Cech N/A
Not many managers leave 'Boro with three points. Was particularly impressed with his unsentimental pre- & post-match comments on his return to a club where he earned legendary status as a player.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Riggott, Emnes, Bennett, Walker
West Brom (4-5-1)
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Barnett, Moore, Pele.