Team: Smithies, Onuoha, Hall, Angella, Perch, Mackie (El Khayati), Henry, Faurlin (Washington), Phillips (Hoilett), Chery, Polter
Subs Not Used: Ingram, Robinson, Luongo, Petrasso
Attendance: 16,058 (including 2,089 Middlesbrough fans)
We had some mad defending, I am not sure what it is but without Clint Hill we are a mess at the back. However, Alex Smithies just gets better and better, but in front of him without as I say the cool head and leadership of Hill, we are a bit like headless chickens.
Up front we have no reason now not to drop Matt Phillips, go two up top, as I would like to see Conor Washington start and see what he can do.
I missed the touchline bust-up, but I am sure more of that will come out over time.
Fair play all round that for a Friday night game it was a very good turnout and our pre-season starts now.
Middlesbrough moved to second in the Championship as they held on for an enthralling win at QPR.
Boro’s Jordan Rhodes bobbled the opening goal over QPR keeper Alex Smithies, only for Jamie Mackie to level with a superb effort off the bar.
Grant Leadbitter had a penalty saved by Smithies before the Boro captain found Gaston Ramirez with the ensuing corner to nod home a second. Ben Gibson made it 3-1 before QPR’s Tjaronn Chery set up a tense finish.
After the full-time whistle, Boro coach Aitor Karanka and his QPR counterpart Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had a heated discussion at the side of the pitch, a product perhaps of the late drama at Loftus Road as Chery reduced the arrears with five minutes of normal time remaining after Sebastian Polter had an earlier effort ruled out for the hosts.
Victory for Boro – edging the Tees-siders above Brighton in the table before the Seagulls’ match against leaders Burnley on Saturday – ends a miserable run of three successive defeats on the road.
QPR’s first loss in four games leaves them 11th in the table.
Boro started brightly and Rhodes did enough to put the visitors ahead, beating Smithies with a scuffed finish to trickle the ball over the line after pouncing on a misjudged header from Grant Hall.
Mackie then punished Boro for failing to clear a free kick into the box, showing great skill to swivel on the edge of the area and cannon the ball off the underside of the bar and over the line.
Smithies made a fine one-handed save to keep Leadbitter out after Alejandro Faurlin brought Albert Adomah down, only for Ramirez to beat the QPR goalkeeper to the corner to put Boro ahead again.
Gibson added a third, again meeting a Leadbitter corner, as the visitors took control, but after Polter had an effort ruled out in the 71st minute – Hoilett’s cut-back pass was judged to have gone over the bye-line – QPR looked increasingly menacing.
Chery beat Dimi Konstantopoulos with a powerful effort with five minutes remaining, but Boro held on.
Queen’s Park Rangers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: “I think in the first-half we controlled the game, but they are a very good side and that is why they are where they are.”
“They scored because of a mistake and then in the second-half I was disappointed with how we started. Their first 10 minutes of the second-half was better than ours and we couldn’t keep the ball, which we had been doing really well.”
“But the most disappointing thing was that we got two goals against us from set-pieces. We know these moments in games are very important.”
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka: “It’s another massive three points and it was another typical Championship game.”
“We were playing a team in mid-table but they wanted every single ball and were fighting, but my team were really good.”
“In the first 25 minutes of the second-half we played really well. They caused us some problems but we are a consistent team and we won another three points that are really important for us.”
“We made a few mistakes to be in the position we are now in – in January we were in a really good position. Now we can’t make any more mistakes. We have to keep going.”
Andrew Aloia (BBC Sport)
Would like to have seen Conor Washington and Junior Hoilett start and as for Matty Phillips, well, it was another muted performance from him!
Our defence was generally woeful and it was probably Grant Hall’s worst performance of the season. Clint Hill’s absence was clearly noticeable and the visitors had made it difficult for us as they pushed up both full-backs.
Karl Henry made a superb challenge around the box in the first-half to deny the visitors.
Following Alex Smithies fine penalty save, we were still celebrating when the resulting corner was headed into the net!
Although Middlesbrough were the better side after the break, I felt cheated when Seb Polter’s goal was ruled out. The ball clearly wasn’t over the bye-line and some around me thought that the ‘goal’ must have been disallowed for offside.
Have to say that it was a very impressive turnout from their fans with over 2,000 making the trip.