For two consecutive weeks now, Middlesbrough have leaked equalisers in the last 10 minutes and it doesn’t do the promotion chances any favours…
Victory at London Road on Saturday against Peterborough would have seen the Reds six points clear of Leeds, who are in fifth. That would have been the cushion Boro needed to practically confirm they were to start off the turn of the year in the play-offs.
The popular belief amongst fans is if Boro are still there by January, chairman Steve Gibson will find the cash to splash…Although we all know what can happen to any team’s form in six games, especially in the Championship.
The Boro do have a lifeline on Tuesday night as they face second place, and almost out of sight, West Ham United. Victory at fortress Riverside would see the gap between the two teams drop to just two points.
‘Typical Boro’ never make it easy for themselves however. Tony Mowbray’s men have consistently been in a position to finish top of the league after the weekend’s fixtures, only to blow it 10 minutes from the end.
Take the last two games for example. If Boro could have kept their 2-1 lead against Blackpool, they could have been sitting pretty in the top three. By Tuesday night they were looking down from fourth. This Saturday was a chance to consolidate our position in the play-offs and keep looking above, but now we stay fourth and are looking over the edge of a cliff where the rocks are slowly breaking.
So here comes the dreaded December and teams like Birmingham, Hull and Blackpool will all be sniffing around below us waiting for some scraps to pick up, and if Boro are not careful they could be swallowed up by mid-table mediocrity for a third successive season.
On the plus side however, with a game in hand on Cardiff and an impressive win this Tuesday it could see the Teessiders looking up and chasing the Hammers throughout Christmas when Boro play Brighton, Hull and Peterborough at the Riverside.
The decider could yet be at the River Taff though, as Boro travel to Cardiff in three weeks time on the 17th December. The Teessiders may be somewhat ‘out of sight’ from Cardiff if the luck goes with them between now and then and if they use their game in hand against West Ham successfully.
December will be a big month for Middlesbrough, both positionally and financially.
Written by Scott Easby, We Are Going Up’s Middlesbrough blogger
Scott tweets at @SEasby12