Mid­dles­brough came from be­hind to edge out QPR in a thriller

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joe Thomas

IT has been a pos­i­tive week for Garry Monk’s Mid­dles­brough, even if Ian Hol­loway was left scratch­ing his head won­der­ing how he re­turned south with “ab­so­lutely zip” from Teesside.

Hol­loway’s Queens Park Rangers, with­out a vic­tory on the road so far this sea­son, went into the lead twice at the start of each half and still ended up los­ing.

Monk, on the other hand, was just de­lighted that Mid­dles­brough had man­aged to emerge from a chal­leng­ing eight days with seven points from a pos­si­ble nine.

The for­mer Leeds and Swansea boss was smil­ing af­ter watch­ing Britt As­som­ba­longa dive to head in a win­ner on the hour with his fifth goal since mov­ing from Not­ting­ham For­est in a £15m deal.

It was a nar­row win se­cured by vir­tu­ally the same start­ing line-up which had to grind out a goal­less draw at As­ton Villa on Tues­day with ten men when Adama Traore was red-carded in­side four min­utes.

Monk, whose side won at Bolton a week ear­lier, said: “We are very pleased with the re­sult in the end.

“The first half QPR came with a plan to try to frus­trate and slow things down.

“We gifted them the first goal and that made it dif­fi­cult for us. We didn’t af­fect the game how we wanted to.

“We made an­other mis­take to gift them an­other avoid­able goal. Credit to the play­ers be­cause we had a good 25-minute pe­riod where we got our lead and if any- thing we should have ex­tended that af­ter that.

“In ac­count of all that, we have had a hard week. There is al­ways a de­bate in my mind, that fresh­ness, phys­i­cal side of it, should you change things?

“But they de­served to play in that game. And credit to those that did. It’s an im­por­tant trait to win when you are not at your best, we were clin­i­cal in the right ar­eas at the right times.”

QPR went ahead in­side two min­utes when David Wheeler coasted in at the back post to con­vert Luke Freeman’s pass be­hind the de­fence.

Mid­dles­brough lev­elled with nine min­utes re­main­ing of the half when Lewis Baker slot­ted home fol­low­ing a clever pass from im­pres­sive for­mer Ox­ford winger Marvin John­son.

Jamie Mackie made the most of a mix-up be­tween Darren Ran­dolph and Ben Gib­son four min­utes into the se­cond half to re­store QPR’s lead, only for fel­low sub­sti­tute Ash­ley Fletcher to glance in an equaliser from Cyrus Christie’s de­liv­ery.

Then As­som­ba­longa headed in a cross from John­son to leave Hol­loway sat­is­fied yet frus­trated – even if Pawel Ws­zolek hit the post late on.

Hol­loway said: “It was a fan­tas­tic game of foot­ball. As a neu­tral that’s what you want to see. Af­ter our early goal, they moved the ball and we knew they would.

“To be fair I am scratch­ing my head how we lost it. You have to say it’s down to the changes Garry made, they had that on the bench. It’s fine mar­gins, we hit the post, did the ball go out for their win­ner?

“That’s the new QPR. I thought they gave me ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing.

“When this place gets go­ing it’s tough. Last time I was here I was un­bi­ased watch­ing a cou­ple of games when they got pro­moted. This year I saw my team at least de­serve some­thing, maybe a point.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

GO FLETCH: Ash­ley Fletcher rises high to score the equaliser that set up Mid­dles­brough’s vic­tory at The River­side

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