So that’s the unbeaten run done then. It was always going to happen at some point and, with us, it normally happens live on Sky, to the delight of Ian Holloway and the away fans who can no longer make the stupid kick off time that always make up their entire audience.
There were a number of contributing factors of course. Injuries were one. The fact Boro look by far the best side in the league was another. And the portents weren’t good. I don’t like my routine being disturbed at the best of times and yesterday it was as disturbed as Spike Milligan on LSD. But, for me, the seeds were sown at Loftus Road. Mr Dunk may well make one howler a game but his stupidity in getting sent off not only cost us two points there, we have now conceded four goals without him, all in the air or from set pieces.
Our regular group was halved yesterday, meaning less conversation on the train. The kick off time meant lunch was at the ground and The Boy wanted chips rather then pie, another routine changer. Then he decided that these and the Maltesers he always stuffs down had made him feel sick. He spent the game moaning not about the ref (well ok, he moaned a bit about the ref but then it was Craig Pawson) but about his stomach.
Within four minutes we’d conceded but, unlike Charlton, there was no obvious way back. Middlesboro broke swiftly down our right and, with Bruno missing from the right back position it was left to Van La Parra (who had a shocker all game) to close down Adomah. He didn’t and a perfect cross found Kike who headed home. It was not the first time we were to be beaten in the air.
We gave it a go after that. A lot of territory but no real chances. There seemed to be an obvious free kick that Mr Pawson mysteriously failed to give but our penalty shout wasn’t. Boro are incredibly organised and closed us down quickly in midfield and on the wings, where Friend is probably the best full back in the division. Going forward Stuart Downing pulls the strings as I expected, so that you can never relax. We were restricted to hopeful pot shots and never looked safe when they broke.
Just before half time we failed to defend a corner and Ayala’s free header was deflected in to the net by Adomah. 2-0 down but none of us felt the miracle come back was on this time.
Indeed it became a case of how many we’d concede. More comedy defending at a set piece allowed Stuani a free header from six inches and the inevitable third had been scored. Boros excellent turn out of 1800 fans celebrated, but otherwise the Amex was silent.
I have to admit we left early. Another routine change – we NEVER do this normally – but we had a family Christmas meal to go to and probably would have left at the same time had we been three up instead (though if it had been close I know I probably would have stayed).
In the week there were clear signs Mr Bloom will be getting the cheque book out in January. He will need to but not necessarily where people think. On the evidence of yesterday VLP is not the March replacement I thought he was and further strengthening is needed to a creaky defence that has now conceded ten goals in our last five games.
As we got off the train The Boy’s tummy got the better of him and we had to visit the public Kermit for number twos. He reported when he came out that someone had written CPFC on the back of the toilet door. “That offends me Daddy” he said. It was that sort of day, son.