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Boro nowhere to be seen as Gibson watches from the stands
Full-time: Barnsley 3 Middlesbrough 2
ON a day when Steve Gibson turned up to watch Middlesbrough, Tony Mowbray’s side were nowhere to be seen.
This wasn’t the performance Mowbray wanted his men to produce in front of the Boro chairman nor was it a performance to suggest the Teessiders can mount any sort of challenge on the Championship this season.
Only two weeks ago, the Middlesbrough manager went into the game against Yeovil desperate for a result to ease the pressure that had built up after a run of one win in ten games.
A 4-1 win seemed to ease the pressure momentarily, but Saturday’s defeat has put Mowbray right back in the firing line of supporters, and you have to wonder just what exactly would have been going through Gibson’s head as he watched Middlesbrough go three-nil down.
Support for Mowbray has diminished over the last 12 games and after booing both the team and manager off at half time, the 2000 travelling Boro fans made their feelings clear with a chant of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” aimed at their leader.
It was the first audible anti-Mowbray chant heard and even if it was followed up with a positive song about the manager, it highlighted there is now a firm split amongst fans.
And who could blame those that made their opinions known? For the first 45 minutes bottom club Barnsley, who were without a win since August 31, dominated Boro and made their opponents look more like the team rooted to the foot of the table when they went in at the break three goals to the good courtesy of Paddy McCourt, Jim O’Brien and Chris O’Grady.
It was a mixture of poor finishing, calamitous defending and bad decision-making, and even if Albert Adomah’s late brace had given Boro hope of a late fightback, the damage had been done and it was a case of too little too late.
“All the boys are down,” Mustapha Carayol said. “I guess it was just one of those where goals change games and if we had put away some of our early chances, it probably would have been a different game.
“I think our second half performance was much better and in the end we could have probably got back into the game, but credit to Barnsley they played really well and the big lad up front was probably my man-of-the-match.
“I think it’s started as a typical football season. It’s been up and down. This wasn’t one of our good performances that we could have come away saying, ‘we could have won it’. They deserved the result and we started playing too late, but we’ve got to take it on the chin and try to get a second home win on Friday.
“I don’t think the squad will feel too much pressure. We’re very positive, we’re a young group and we get along really well. We’re going to demand a lot from each other and you expect that in football.
“I’m sure we’ll get rid of this result in our warm-down on Sunday and we’ll be ready for Doncaster. It’s a totally different game and we need to focus on that now.”
Middlesbrough's Kei Kamara heads just wide in the dying minutes against Barnsley
Boro started well at Oakwell, but after Lukas Jutkiewicz missed a glaring one-on-one opportunity, the Tykes raced up the other end where McCourt danced through the defence and slotted home.
The Teessiders were behind, but they were still in the game and creating chances. A Grant Leadbitter free-kick found Kei Kamara at the back post to head back across goal, but Jutkiewicz could only manage a tame header straight into the arms of Jack Butland.
And once again, a squandered Boro chance led to a Barnsley goal when Jim O’Brien’s long-range effort clipped O’Grady and went past a wrong-footed Steele in the 41st minute.
Boro were well and truly dumbstruck and things got worse two minutes later when Marcus Pedersen was brought down by a desperate tackle from Ben Gibson. Referee Oliver Langford didn’t hesitate to award the spot-kick with O’Grady sending Steele the wrong way.
A chorus of boos from the away end met the half-time whistle with Mowbray and his players walking off to a torrent of abuse from disgruntled fans.
Adomah’s late double mellowed the final-whistle reaction from Boro fans slightly, but patience is wearing thin and Carayol, who did make a difference in the second half alongside Richie Smallwood, knows things need to change quickly.
He said: “Something has to start happening soon. We need to start picking up results as soon as possible because you don’t want to fall too far behind the teams at the top. It’s a long season and I guess we’ll see over the next month or so how we do, but we’ve definitely got some games we need to win and we’ll set up to go and attack those teams and try to get three points.”