Polish and poise easily turns nasty
BORO shot themselves through the foot – twice – in a chaotic car-crash secondhalf surrender to Derby.
They trailed to an early opener but played some neat football and carved out some excellent chances in a first 45 that suggested they had the style and spirit to claw back.
But a suicidal start gifted a penalty then a keeper clanger handed Derby a third goal before Boro compounded the misery with a stupid sending off.
But despite that, there were some individuals who could hold their heads up amid the debris.
Rejuvenated on the right, evergreen flanker Stewart Downing rolled back the years with a first half of style and swagger.
He looked lively, inventive and hungry for action, dropping deep to demand the ball and looking up for a quick, creative forward pass.
He showed poise and polish as he picked and probed down the right and cutting side to knit attacks together and was at the heart of Boro’s most threatening moves.
Another good show came from Brazilian full-back Fabio, who is in fine form. He was alert at the back, cutting out danger down the flanks with interceptions and timely tackles.
And he was an assertive outlet breaking forward on the left too, over-lapping to cut inside and link up with attack or find an angle to deliver some decent crosses. He also put a first-half header just over.
Among Boro’s best in that first half was Cyrus Christie.
He linked up well with Downing and Braithwaite on the right to provide a constant threat.
As Boro imploded after the break, he kept going and, despite being barracked by his former fans at Derby, he was one of the few still running and chasing at the whistle. Cyrus Christie was one of the few still chasing at the final whistle