Middlesbrough 2 – 0 Birmingham City

A solid start to Middlesbrough’s promotion bid on a glorious summer’s afternoon at the Riverside Stadium. Goals from Daniel Ayala and new boy Kike sealed a 2-0 victory against a Birmingham side which included 6 debuts. This showed, as the Blues were sloppy at the back and offered little creativity going forward. No shots on target all afternoon is an early indication that this could be a long season for Lee Clark’s men.

Middlesbrough

Tomas Mejias – Looked confident with his work, albeit few and far between. 6
Seb Hines – Slotted in well at right back and made some decent interceptions. 6
Ben Gibson – Injured and replaced 10 seconds into the game after a tussle with Wes Thomas. 5
Daniel Ayala – Scrappy headed goal gave him the confidence to improve after a couple of early passes went astray. 7
George Friend – Assured performance. Didn’t put a foot wrong defensively and was fully committed all afternoon. Some decent attacking moments to boot. 8
Grant Leadbitter – Worked hard and supported attacks well. Grabbed and assist from an in-swinging corner. 7
Dean Whitehead – Got through a lot of work and didn’t allow the Birmingham defence to breathe. 7
Lee Tomlin – Seems to be gelling well with Boro’s new striker Kike. Some intricate passing on show and was always looking to create in the final third. 7
Albert Adomah – Struggled to impact the game. His pace got him in behind a couple of times but he failed to punish the Birmingham defence. 6
Adam Reach – A decent performance from the youngster, always looking to take on the opposition full back and put in one or two troublesome deliveries. 6
Kike – Looked sharp, with good ball control and pace. Took his chance well and should have had another a few minutes later after a well worked set piece. 8

Kenneth Omeruo – Came on for the injured Ben Gibson a few minutes in and looked colossal at the heart of the Boro defence. 8
Emilio Nsue – Looked bright, but had little time to make any significant impact. 6
Luke Williams – Barely had a kick in the five minutes he was out there, although he did draw a good save from Randolph late on. 6

Birmingham City

Darren Randolph – Stand out performance in the Birmingham team. Could of been four or five without him between the sticks. 8
Neal Eardley – Struggled to cope with the exuberance of Reach. Caught flat footed on more than once occasion. 5
Grant Hall – Should have cleared a looping ball which led to Kike bagging Boro’s second goal. 5
Paul Robinson – Struggled to organise an unfamiliar back four whilst playing out of position at centre back. Left Ayala unmarked for Boro’s first. 5
Jonathan Grounds – Managed to deal with Adomah’s pace for the most part. A decent performance from the full back against his former club. 6
David Edgar – A centre back playing centre midfield, and it showed. Solid enough with some full blooded challenges, but offered very little going forward. 6
Stephen Gleeson – Moved the ball with pace and purpose in the early stages but made no tangible impact on the game after that. 6
Demerai Gray – Showed glimpses of lightening quick pace and trickery at times but came up against a solid full back in George Friend. 7
Andrew Shinnie – Created very little for the Blues’ strikers to feed on. Unsurprisingly subbed after 55 minutes. 5
Lee Novak – Looked sluggish and didn’t use the bullying approach we are used to seeing from big Geordie. 5
Wes Thomas – Made some intelligent pacey runs in behind Boro’s back four but was feeding of scraps all afternoon. 6

Mark Duffy – Looked bright and showed some decent work rate. Had minimal impact overall. 6
Clayton Donaldson – Looked a big strong lad but the service wasn’t there for him to show off his attributes 6

 

Man of the Match

Kike – Fabulous debut from the classy Spaniard. Looks to have all the ingredients to become a top striker at this level. 8


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23 - Lancaster University Graduate - Middlesbrough Fan