Middlesbrough 1-1 Watford: Match Recap
Monday, 5th Apr 2021 14:46 by Phil Spencer
Middlesbrough secured a 1-1 draw with Watford thanks Yannick Bolasie's first goal for the club.
The Everton loanee latched onto a sublime free-kick from Paddy McNair with just 12 minutes remaining to spare the Teessiders' blushes after a defensive mishap in the first half gave the Hornets the lead.
While the play-offs seemed to be something of a long shot Neil Warnock will have been determined to see his side pick up a good result to keep them in the mix for another week.
Here's how the clash at the Riverside Stadium unfolded.
In truth there was only one real moment to discuss in the first half.
Watford dictated play for long spells but Middlesbrough did a decent job in man-marking the promotion contenders to within in an inch of their life and limiting them to speculative efforts and half-chances.
At least that was the case until 32 minutes in.
Middlesbrough's defensive solidity appeared to be compromised as Sam Morsy went off following a challenge from Nathaniel Chalobah and that led to the breakthrough moment on 32 minutes.
The Teessiders had two opportunities to clear the ball after an excellent Marcus Bettinelli save but after failing to do so the ball fell to Philip Zinckernagal who hit an effort from the edge of the area.
That shot took a deflection off Ismailla Sarr and found its way into the net, leading to angry protests from the Middlesbrough camp who passionately claimed for offside.
Unfortunately they didn't have a leg to stand on with both Darnell Fisher and Djed Spence meaning that Sarr was a mile onside which meant that it wasn't even close.
Middlesbrough tried to push forward in the closing stages of the half and posed minor threats through Spence in the closing stages of injury time.
Middlesbrough started the second half positively and didn't take long to put the ball in the back of the net after some good work from Hayden Coulson found George Saville's who headed an effort at goal, however that effort deflected off Duncan Watmore who was flagged for offside.
Joao Pedro had an opportunity for the visitors not long after but sent it wide of the mark.
Pedro threatened again after 71 minutes when a neat passing move saw the Brazilian played in on the left side of the attack but his placed effort went narrowly wide of the mark.
Chuba Akpom and Yannick Bolasie were introduced to change the game and the latter certainly managed that as he got himself on the end of a pinpoint Paddy McNair free-kick to draw the game level with 10 minutes to go.
Neither side was able to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the final stages and so Middlesbrough will be satisfied to come away with a decent point.
While a draw is a decent result in the end, it was a performance that pretty much summed up Middlesbrough's season.
Neil Warnock's side were pretty solid throughout and nullified Watford's play pretty effectively for long spells of the game as they pressed and ensured that goalscoring opportunities were limited.
Unfortunately Watford's goal was a familiar story as a momentary lapse in concentration proved costly as Middlesbrough were made to pay with Ismailla Sarr's first half goal.
Middlesbrough worked hard in the second half and were arguably the better team but it seemed like a lack of creativity would prove costly as Watford moved towards picking up three points.
But when you've got a player like Paddy McNair in your side you can never rule out the prospect of getting a goal back.
His set pieces had been disappointing up until that point, but a whipped free-kick from the right flank evaded the Watford defence and gave Yannick Bolasie the simple task of heading home.
You could see what it meant to the loanee to get his first goal for the club, and that goal will mean even more after ensuring that Middlesbrough's blushes were spared.
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