Sven was back at the Riverside with his Leicester City side aiming to make a playoff place. The pressure was on for the Foxes to get a result after collecting only 4 points from the last 6 games. Last time Sven visited the Boro as Manchester City manager in the high scoring 8-1 end of season game. Would we see another high scoring game at the Riverside?
After Danny Graham’s scoring return for Watford in the previous home game another former Boro player was back at the Riverside, Yakubu providing a tough test for our players. We all know he is a handful with his strength, the forward used to do a fine job for us up front on his own. It seemed inevitable that the on loan striker would get on the score sheet.
In the Foxes line up was right back Kyle Naughton, one of our loan signings last season. He was in a head to head battle up against Joe Bennett who were both tweeting each other the night before with banter about the game.
Tony Mowbray was forced into a few changes, with Bailey failing a late fitness test and Robson missing out with a hamstring injury. The reshuffle of the team saw Rhys Williams move from defence to midfield and Hines and Davies back into the centre of defence. The engineroom was Taylor and Arca out wide and Rhys Williams, young Richard Smallwood in the centre of midfield.
Boro didn’t have the best of starts conceding in the 4th minute when Leicester crossed a freekick from the left. The ball came out to Wellens who drilled the ball in low from the right side of box and Yakubu converted a simple tap Boro guilty of not the best marking in the world.
The game was end to end and within 10 minutes we were back in the match following a great assist from Richard Smallwood. Good to see him get another start. Smallwood
did well to win procession near the centre circle, carried it a few yards and slotted a cracking pass through to Marvin Emnes who drilled low in to the net for a great finish!
The action continued to swing from box to box but with half time approaching, we would surely be going in level at the break or so I thought. Then in first half injury time Leicester won a corner on the Boro right, it was crossed over and headed back towards goal. It looked to me as if our on loan goal keeper Paul Smith was fouled by Yakubu and between Yakubu and Bamba the ball rebounded in. I expected the goal to be disallowed. It wasn’t and what a bad time to concede a goal, a real blow going in at half time a goal down.
The second half under way it didn’t take long for Leicester City to increase their lead. Within 3 mins of restart, Vassell lobbed the ball forward which beat the whole Boro defence and Yakubu only had Paul Smith to beat from 12 yards out. The ex Boro forward slotted it low right into the corner of net.
Boro were now 3-1 down and the way the game was going I felt there were more goals in the game, it was still end to end. I remembered that we had previously come back in the 2003/2004 Premier league season against Leicester in a 3-3 game when Ian Walker was in goal. We needed to score the next goal to have any chance of come back.
There were some good one two’s played on left between Joe Bennett and Rhys Williams. Rhys was bursting forward in his midfield role and this time played a one two with Arca, he controlled the ball flicked it up and volleyed it from 20 yards for a superb goal. Like his performances since his return from injury, Rhys is proving a top quality player who is versatile in different positions. Which opens up another debate where his best position is?
Only one goal away from a come back the fans really got behind the team as we attacked towards the North Stand. Zemmama came on for the young and impressive Smallwood who is settling in to the team well. Meanwhile, Kink replaced Taylor as we pressed for the equaliser. We got a freekick, Zemmama took it I thought it was in, so close. It hit the post. Then Arca took a shot from 20 yards out which was blocked by Bruma with his arm. The ref awarded a pen after the Boro fans had appealed for it.
Leicester were using every delaying tactic in the book and it seemed an age before Arca finally got to take the spot kick. Yakubu went over to the goalkeeper for a word probably to tell him which way to go from his time training with Boro. Arca stepped up, but it wasn’t a great pen, probably after too much thinking time it was hit to the right at a comfortable height for Weale the Leicester goal keeper. Bruma was still arguing his case about the pen and was giving his marching orders after receiving his 2nd yellow card.
McManus came on for the last 20 minutes but he didn’t have to put up with Yakubu for long as he was subbed. Yak had put his weight and strength about all afternoon now it was time for us to push players forward. Hines went up front to add more height. Emnes and Hines combined in the box from a narrow angle Emnes hit the post the ball bounced back in to play and the Leicester goalkeeper Weale grabbed it.
It was getting close to full time were we going to regret missing those chances? The board went up with injury time to be played, 6 minutes time added on. We all roared them on, Come on Boro. Halfway through the allocated 6 minutes we won a corner. Just near where I was sitting in the North East Corner Tony McMahon came over to take the corner. A decent cross from Tony McMahon was met by McManus who got a great connection and hit it like a bullet. What a cracking header and great for McManus to get a goal after all that time out, it was especially frustrating hardly playing under Mowbray with that ankle injury.
Another goal feast for Sven and all at the Riverside, a thrilling entertaining game ending in a 3-3 draw! It had everything, the play was end to end, 6 goals, a pen and a sending off. This Boro team don’t give up and are not scared to have a shot. What a great come back from Boro. There is plenty of fight and character in this side Mogga is putting together. Up The Boro!