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Middlesbrough talking points following Coventry City fightback
Wednesday, 3rd Mar 2021 15:58 by Matthew Hunter

Victory over Coventry City feels like a potential turning point for Middlesbrough.

After going 1-0 behind it seemed that it was going to be the same old story, but thankfully Neil Warnock's side were able to dig in and claw back victory from the jaws of defeat.

Here Matthew Hunter runs us through the main talking points from the clash with the Sky Blues.

Chuba Akpom starting

It was refreshing to see Chuba starting and rightly so after playing his part in the Cardiff equaliser.

The former Arsenal man provided a neat flick on towards the back, which was pounced on by Paddy to rescue a draw against the bluebirds.

Britt played poorly so it was only right Akpom was rewarded a start. His start was not one to remember though mostly chasing loose balls. He offered a bit of strength and aerial threat but not much more.

Chuba had a half chance first half but never got us Boro fans off our seats. He didn’t see a lot of the ball admittedly but strikers have to be on their toes ready for the chance.

He was eventually subbed after a quiet game and Warnock will continue to play with his leading striker position.

Sunday league football

Whilst we got the win yesterday, and an important one if we are to keep play off hopes alive, it was not the best football to watch.

The first half of the game was anyone’s and Coventry definitely started off the better team. We seen a lot of the ball being hoofed from defence to defence with the majority of midfielders just playing head tennis.

Maybe this was a tactic implemented by Warnock, to try and get Chuba involved. Nevertheless, we have quality on the pitch and on the ball so it was ugly to watch this.

The Cardiff game also seen this so I hope it’s not something we are going for.

Players with quality at their feet

Speaking of Sunday league football, it’s hard to watch this sort of style when we had players on the pitch yesterday that are great with the ball – namely Neeskens Kebano and Marcus Tavernier.

We saw countless times the ball being pumped up field by McNair and co but this then takes the quality of Tav and Kebano away from the game. These are the kind of players that are dangerous with the ball at feet, driving at opposition defence.

The second half seen more of these two with the ball at their feet and we looked much more dangerous going forward.

Howson and McNair are also players we recognise being good with the ball at feet so it baffles me to see Middlesbrough not playing the ball on the ground at times.

We’ve seen them play possession football so well in the past so why can’t we now? We got the job done in the end but it certainly wasn’t the prettiest.

Bolasie is back

I was a little surprised to see Bolasie on the bench, but of course a little excited.

He’s a player we’ve chased for years and finally this January we acquired his services.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long before he was injured with us. I’d heard last night he begged Warnock to play and that’s why he was up for selection.

Almost immediately with him coming on, I noticed a neat little flick that he did and it reminded me of his Palace days, where he was scarily good. It made me think that’s a sign of premier league quality.

As the game continued, he shown good pace and strength as well as more trickery which made my mouth water at what he could be for us.

Bolasie nearly killed the game off in injury time but to be denied by the side netting – I think with more game time and confidence, he’d of buried that. Still, signs to get excited – maybe he can give us that major push for play-offs.

George Saville’s winner

George has his critics amongst Boro fans and I’ll admit too, he’s not my favourite player.

But we can’t begrudge him too much – after all, he did snatch a scrappy winner last night.

Great play by Tav and Howson resulted in a scruffy scramble in the 6-yard box, with George tapping in from close range. As any goal-scorer will tell you though, you have to be there to score them so give him credit for that.

He’s not the most technically gifted or body-abled yet he’s got a bit of everything for me – jack of all trades kinda player. And with 5 goals and 4 assists, he’s joint top of goalscoring contributions this year.

Considering he’s not starting every week, I’d say very good numbers indeed. Maybe, he deserves more applaud from us Boro fans.

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