* The Unofficial "Official" Boro v Southampton [03/24] Match-Day Thread *


Well-known member
Its that time again>>>>>>>

EFL Championship. Friday 29th March 2024. Southampton v Middlesbrough. St. Mary's Stadium. SO14 5FP. KO: 15:00 hrs.

It was way back in September when we had our first encounter in the league against Southampton for six years. In a 2-1 victory at The Riverside, Saints dropped to 15th after eight games, whilst Boro were lifted one place in the relegation zone, from 23rd to 22nd place - above Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday. With five points from a possible 24 we were definitely struggling to find our feet after a big turn-over of personnel during the previous summer. But, what appeared to be a forgone conclusion on paper turned out to be a pleasantly surprising result on grass.
Boro hadn't won a game since the previous April, and it turned out to be the first win of the season for us. McGree got the equaliser before half-time and Jonny Howson converted a penalty in the second half, after Josh was up-ended in the area. We never gave up, even after they scored, and could have easily won by three or four. It wasn't quite the start of a revolution, but it marked an end to the terrible start to the season. A "mini-run" was to follow, which saw an element of confidence come back into the side and certainly less anxiety and angst from the terraces.
Southampton had the Premier League players, with quality and experience, and were always a pain in our side. Southampton had an uncomfortable start to adapting to life in the Championship, but we know what's happened since. They are currently fourth in the table: seven points above West Brom and eight points behind Ipswich in third! We all know how quickly things can change, so Saints won't be resting on their laurels. It's between Leeds [82 points], Leicester [82] and Ipswich [81] to decide who goes up automatically - at the moment. With ten out of our last twelve points, we are in the best run of form we have had since last year, so that seven point gap between us and that last play-off spot is not a bridge too far. It's not all over until it's all over and, as yet, the "fat lady" hasn't started singing.

After we beat Southampton in September, we went unbeaten for a further three very tough games:
[We cracked the Hornets at their place with a Josh winner in a thrilling 3-2 victory.

[We were just too much for Cardiff City, who were flying high at the time. An emphatic 2-0, with goals from Jones and Latte Lath sent them home packing.]

[We stuffed the deckchairs, who had no answer to our fantastic football that day. 4-0 in their own backyard. Wonderful !]

Michael Carrick, at his recent media conference, acknowledged that Southampton are a good side, with quality and skill, but is more concerned
with Boro`s ambitions than theirs:

They're a good team, you know. They make you work for it, they look after the ball a lot [and] rotate the work space as well, and [we've] got to be really smart with how [we] play against them....... but they've scored a lot of goals and now right near the top of the league with a lot to play for. It's that time of year isn't it when you start getting to here, to these stages where things can be won and lost quite quickly.

We've got our own things going on, you know, and we're looking forward to the game for our own reasons.

Carrick is concerned with how the lads have been training and the feeling in the group. As usual, it's about the positives. There was certainly no issue playing today and then on Monday against Sheffield Wednesday. He pointed out that we're used to playing two games a week over the season, so the only difference, really, was for the supporters over the holiday period!

So what about the play-offs?

Said Carrick:

We've just got to try and win games and then see where that [takes us] from week to week and game to game. As I've said it to you many times, it can look so different in a 4 game period where we picked up quite a few points
..... Yeah, there's still a bit of work to do to get into the play-offs and [we] hope to get into the play-offs, but all we can do is try and win games.

We've got some tough games. We [will] try and put a run together again and build on what we've got and then see. Who knows ? It might be too much to ask but, we might pull it off. At this stage no one knows, so we just we can control what we can
........and then and then see what happens after that.

Clearly, he still has an eye on that last play-off spot, but he won't give in until it's impossible. He's got no intention of throwing the towel in, and made it quite clear. Compared to this time last year, it was suggested that Carrick has "nothing to lose" against Southampton, almost as if our destiny was sealed for this season. He was also clear about finishing the season strongly and using that momentum going into the summer:

There's always something to lose whether it's Pride whether it's points, places a game, or whatever it is. there's always someone says there's nothing to lose. [Well] there's always something to lose. Listen, I'd much rather be up the league, be in towards the top........ higher up the league than we are. but we are where we are [and] I think we just got to make the most [of it].

We got to finish the season strong! We want to finish the season strong! We managed to build up a little bit of momentum before [the] International break, and we want to build on that.

If that takes us into towards the play-offs then, then fantastic and as the games go, then we'll try and make the most of that and, if it doesn't quite happen for whatever reason.........we want to finish the season strong going into the summer and building on that for next season.

Today could signal the start of another "mini-run". The saints appear to have more to play for than us [?], but the Gaffa is having none of it. No matter who is injured, in or out of the team, on the bench or anywhere else, we can beat Southampton. They have lost two games at home in twelve games - having won ten! But we had the same predicament before we beat [then] league leaders Leicester home and away.

Yes, considering our remaining fixtures, we can have a big say in what happens for other clubs before the final day of the season. But that's not our focus right now. We want three points and, like Carrick says, aim to win every game. No one goes out to draw or lose. It's a long way to Southampton from Boro, but that shouldn't stop us giving them a dose of Teesside grit and determination and close that gap to 6th spot!

Come On Boro!
r00fie1 29/03/2024
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Stats, Fixtures and the rest:

Current Championship Table Before Weekend KO:


Championship Fixtures:


Championship Table - Overall Form - Last 6:

Champ Table.png

League Form - Home and Away:
Home and Away Tables.png

Southampton - Last 12 games - 10 victories and 2 defeats:

SFC Last 12.png

Southampton / Boro League Trends:

League trends.png
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Russell Martin

Southampton v Boro Preview

Russell Martin's comments from his pre-match interview: From the "Daily Echo" - Published 28th March 2024.



How are Brooks and Bednarek after the playoff on Tuesday?
: Janny took a kick in the first game for Poland before the Wales game.
He managed to get through the game as good as he could. He also felt a bit of a virus, the same as Brooksy.
They have both been assessed yesterday and look reasonably good. We have to make sure we are completely right, but they are both available for tomorrow.
They will both be involved. I think Broosky feels he could have played on a bit, but also understands that he wasn’t feeling at his best.
He has been ill for three or four days in bed. Luckily for us, both are ready to be involved tomorrow.
Rhys (Owen, head of conditioning) was at the game and text us to say they are both off. Thankfully, it’s positive news.

And everyone else, with Walker-Peters and Fraser back in training?
: Everyone is good. Everyone is in a good place. Kyle has looked. Wee Man and Kyle have looked like they’ve never been away.
They are now available for the run-in, which is fantastic. Big Ross Stewart is back on the grass doing light work and will slowly be reintegrated back into the group.
Like I’ve said before, we shouldn’t expect too much from him. It’s great to have him back in amongst things.

Have you got everything you wanted out of the break?
: They have done some brilliant work. The guys who have been here while the others went away for internationals have been great.
We have enjoyed a bit of time on the training pitch, and they have had a bit of balance as well with rest and recovery.
Some went away for a few days and did their thing, others just spent time with their family.

Adam Armstrong's partner has had a baby.
Huge congratulations to them, that's really nice. It has been a good balance between working really hard and a bit of rest as well.

Is there a bit of unknown for managers after a lengthy break like this?
: We have looked at what we felt we needed to prioritise after the last few games.
We played some brilliant football but conceded too many goals. It's the same process, but there is no game to get evidence of the work done.
We have worked really hard and have kept reinforcing the stuff they're doing, and the rest will take care of itself.
We also wanted to keep the feeling we had in the group, and that is really difficult when you have lots of players away.
It is going to be a really interesting and busy five weeks, and I think everyone is really excited about it.

Does it focus everyone to have a 10-game block in five weeks?
: You get so close to the end goal and everything you want to achieve. Every game you tick off now, you get closer and closer to it.
Crazy things will happen in the league between now and the end of the season. There will be some strange games and strange results.
We have to take care of ourselves. The beautiful thing for us is that we have been written off by everyone.
We have averaged two points a game, and we have been completely written off, which is really interesting and shows the quality of the other teams.
We will take each day as it comes, and we have a tough one against Middlesbrough, who are in good form - especially away from home.
They have a good manager who I respect a lot, Michael Carrick, and I think they have been unlucky if you look at the data.
They probably should be a bit higher up than they are. It's a tough game, but they all are in this league. I am really excited for this challenge.
After a bit of an extended break, we need a result, and it's a big weekend for us.

Is there a particular reason Middlesbrough's away record is better than their home?
: I couldn't tell you, they have changed shape recently, and it's worked quite well, but they are flexible.
I think you'd have to ask Michael that, I don't know why it is, but when you watch the games they are quite consistent.
There's no difference in setup or performance, and they have been good.
I may miss a lot of today's game but I wouldn't want to put anyone off backing it's at 5/1 for the win, which I think is too high.

I have had a little beer money on it myself.

*gambling is bad, don't bet if you can't control yourself.
Looks weak.
Guess we are missing:
Hackney, Forss, McGree, Bangura, Lenihan, Smith, Fry, Coburn
Probably forgotten one or two?
Story of our season :(
Oh well, COME ON BORO!!!!!!
Not sure why, but I’ve got ‘Hammer house of horrors’ going through my mind looking at that team sheet.
RAV, Hackney, Forss, McGree, Bangura, Lenihan, Smith, Fry, Coburn.
9 of our first choices out - unbelievable.
Funny to see Leicester lose 0-1 in the early KO - bet they are sweating now :)
Leicester have just lost to Bristol city.
Four points out the last 15.
Foxes slipping.
A win for Ipswich pushes them into third behind them and Leeds.
Leicester have just lost to Bristol city.
Four points out the last 15.
Foxes slipping.
A win for Ipswich pushes them into third behind them and Leeds.
Southampton have 2 games in hand, and winning them puts them only 3 points behind - but need to boost their goal difference (so we may need to hide behind the settee)
How do we end up with less players after a two week International break?! :mad:
1. McGree`s not long been back in the country and was being assessed on Thursday.
2. Forss is still out after that injury against Blackburn.
3. Josh isn't quite ready.
4. Hackney is injured.
5. Bangura is injured.
6. Smith and Lenighan are out for the season.