Match Report

500 Words After Boro Visit Ewood

Sunday, 17 September 2023

“Doc…we’re in trouble…we can’t score…we’re stuck at the bottom of the table…we desperately need three points…”

“There’s only one thing to do here…I’m going to refer you to ‘Doctor Rovers’…”

“Doctor Rovers…why yes…of course…thanks Doc…it’s all gonna be fine now isn’t it?”

“Well…history suggests that a restorative trip to Ewood should do the trick…good luck!”


Be honest now, we all feared that before kick off didn’t we? The classic scenario of a struggling visiting opponent, filled with expensive signings on substantial contracts, led by a media-friendly manager and containing a former Rovers skipper. I had Lenihan to nod in the winner late on as the bare minimum.

This Rovers side however can do so much so well when they are on it. The JDT era gives us fast-moving passing as players interchange, overlap and move the ball at a pace which is very pleasing on the eye. It’s all really terrific stuff right up until the point where someone needs to actually try to score.


In the early minutes of this fixture, Rovers made Middlesbrough look sluggish as chances were created but spurned. The main culprits were Tyrhys Dolan and Sam Gallagher. Neither will look back on their gilt-edged heading opportunities with particular fondness. They weren’t the only culprits but had it not been for a clinical Szmodics finish then extraordinarily, Rovers could have reached half-time with nothing to show for their considerable efforts.



As expected, the interval was clearly used by Carrick to re-invigorate his side and they looked much more coherent and threatening from the off. The second Szmodics effort was an absolute beauty and the hope now was Rovers could go through the gears and run up if not a cricket score, a tennis score at least. On chances, 6-2 was possibly a fair reflection including a couple of service breaks and possibly new balls. 


Boro took advantage of some very lax officiating to peg one back. The assistant referee was presumably confused by the oceans of space surrounding Crooks and seemingly decided that a sliding Hyam’s toenails had played him on. I’m still no VAR advocate however; thankfully, justice was done as it didn’t ultimately cost Rovers but it did result in serious fingernail depletion.



The substitutes had mixed impact. JRC demonstrated his tenacity, energy and strength to bolster an increasingly shaky midfield in which Wharton looked drained by this point. Moran seemed to be bewildered by the pace of the game. Telalovic almost provided the assist of the game, could also have scored but looked what he is, a new kid, in a new team, in a new country, learning all about JDT-ball. 

The game was certainly entertaining with an abundance of tension and drama throughout. The skill largely came from POTM Sammie Szmodics and Rovers deservedly eliminated their Plymouth hangover.

If only JDT could have been provided with the players to deliver on his vision. So much potential here that really needs to be exploited. 

Former players line up pre-game as part of the 5000th game celebrations: 

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