Southgate 90 Minutes From The Sack?

Last updated : 29 January 2009 By Boro Mad

Forget Liverpool v Chelsea, that fixture doesn't even seem in the same league as the 'Match Of The Day' ... Boro v Blackburn Rovers.

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson, seen as the 'soft touch' of the Premiership, is himself under pressure from supporters ... who know we are knocking on the door of relegation.

Facing Chelsea brings with it a different sort of pressure to playing Rovers.

Because former Toon boss Sam Allardyce come calling and a defeat for Boro puts daylight between ourselves and safety.

The 3-0 defeat to bottom club West Brom is still fresh in the mind, and if we cannot beat 4th bottom Blackburn at HOME ... where else is there for us to go other than down?

The last thing we want is the result of last season ....


BORO: Schwarzer, Davies, Riggott, Wheater, Taylor,Sanli (Johnson 85), Arca (Cattermole 88), Boateng, Downing,Yakubu, Aliadiere (Lee 84).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Hines.

BLACKBURN: Friedel, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley,Dunn (Mokoena 90), Savage, Pedersen, McCarthy (Santa Cruz 60),Roberts (Derbyshire 78).
Subs Not Used: Brown, Kerimoglu.

Att: 25,058

Roque Santa Cruz made a dramatic impact on his introduction to Premier League football only to be outshone by Blackburn's exciting young prospect Matt Derbyshire.

The Paraguayan striker, described by Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen as "too bloody good" scored a towering header two minutes into his career in England's top flight.

Santa Cruz's introduction came after a worrying incident involving Benni McCarthy, who collapsed after a head injury, but Derbyshire outdid his illustrious fellow substitute with an absolute beauty just 23 seconds after coming on.

The goals ruined a seemingly-good afternoon for Middlesbrough, who had taken the lead through Stewart Downing's free-kick and had seen promising debuts from Jeremie Aliadiere and Tuncay Sanli.

Until Santa Cruz's introduction Middlesbrough had enjoyed the better of the chances but his qualities put the home side on the back-foot.

Boro's new signings have injected pace into the side and in the eighth minute they broke at pace and nearly made Blackburn pay dearly for conceding possession far up the field.

Aiyegbeni Yakubu surged upfield and played a killer pass to Sanli and the Turkish debutant laid the ball inside to Aliadiere who slid the ball wide under pressure from a suspiciously offside position.

The linesman did not flag, but his opposite number did when Morten Gamst Pedersen received the ball from David Bentley and set McCarthy up for a tap-in.

The game was refreshingly open throughout and David Wheater used his commanding height at the other end to direct a terrific downward header but Brad Friedel pulled off a good save diving low to his right.

Mark Schwarzer came racing off his line to deny Roberts, who had been put through by Dunn, then Downing had a go from 25 yards but straight into Friedel's arms.

Warnock needlessly conceded a corner from which Downing caused some panic, then the Blackburn defender committed the same blunder a minute later.

This time Chris Riggott flicked on Downing's flag-kick but Wheater could only guide the ball the wrong side of the post.

Middlesbrough took the lead in the 31st minute after Chris Samba's reckless barge on Yakubu presented Downing with a free-kick in presentable range.

The England left-winger stepped up and curled the kick low around the Blackburn wall and into the corner, leaving Friedel glaring at his fellow players.

It was well-deserved for the home side who had created by far the best opportunities at that point - leaving Rovers boss Mark Hughes so angry it earned him a touchline ticking off from referee Andre Marriner.

Bentley then tried an audacious chip from out on the right of the Boro penalty area and though Schwarzer was back-pedalling furiously the ball dropped onto the roof of the net.

Immediately after the break, Julio Arca felled Dunn and Pedersen took the free-kick from 30-yards out only to drive it into the wall.

Then came the incident with McCarthy, who had picked up a knock on the head in a challenge with Riggott, and collapsed as he was speaking to Blackburn's physio.

After lengthy treatment on the pitch, the South African striker was taken from the field on a stretcher and wearing a neck-brace.

Santa Cruz came on in his place and it took a matter of two minutes and 30 seconds for the Paraguayan striker to make an impact, scoring a towering header with only his third touch in Premier League football.

Bentley produced the cross from the byline and Santa Cruz rose above Riggott and Wheater to crash home a header for the equaliser.

Derbyshire served notice however that he is not willing to be left on the sidelines this season, and a pretty special goal it was by the 21-year-old.

Picking up the ball on the left, he jinked inside and then curled a splendid shot that left Schwarzer grasping thin air on its way into the top corner.

In injury-time, Wheater almost grabbed a point with a powerful header that Friedel clawed away and Samba cleared the loose ball in the nick of time.

Rovers had won it and Boro's frustration boiled over at the final whistle with an unseemly scuffle with Boateng at the centre of it.