On reflection . . .

Last updated : 20 September 2005 By Reggie Holdsworth
On paper most Boro fans will be happy, a win over the mighty Arsenal, a comfortable 2-0 advantage to take to Xanthi in the UEFA Cup and a point from Sundays draw at newly promoted Wigan.

But if you look at the performances in more detail Boro still have a lot to do if they are to qualify for Europe again through the league.

Had Arsenal taken the lead in the first 20 minutes, when they dominated so much, they would have continued their impressive record at the Riverside.

Yakubu and Massimo Maccarone took their chances with great composure, but many will see the goals as defence errors by Arsenal, rather than domination by Boro.

The Xanthi game was always going to be difficult, made worse by Boro's complete lack of creativity in midfield. Thankfully George Boateng was on hand to finish Maccarone's parried effort.

Boro failed to show for the first 20 minutes of the second half, Xanthi had four or five useful efforts on goal, and on another night (like Sporting last year) Boro would have been punished.

Viduka's deflected shot gave Boro a great chance of progressing to the group stage, but Xanthi proved, in them second half minutes, that this tie is far from over.

Playing the newly promoted sides early in the season is always a difficult task, so Boro should be happy with a point, but the manner of the points dropped was disappointing.

Boro should have made their first half dominance count for more than a 1-0 advantage. The loss of James Morrison was a factor, but it can't be an excuse, the shape of the side in the second half left a lot to be desired.

A moment of hesitance between Ugo Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate and Mark Schwarzer allowed Henri Camara to earn Wigan a point that they didn't deserve.

Thankfully the Mackems earned their first point of the season at the weekend, otherwise they would've got it at the Riverside on Sunday, you know Boro.

I still think we have a way to go before we can seriously consider ourselves as top six contenders this season, the consistency required has not yet materialised, so come on Boro get it sorted.