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Middlesbrough 2014

The 1st Football Aid fixture at the Riverside since 2008 was a hotly contested match which saw plenty of goals and some fine attacking football. The Away team took the game in the end despite being behind by 2 goals at the start of the 2nd half. Some fine attacking play brought them back into the game and allowed them to run away with it in what was a game full of goals, 11 in total. Despite this there was well structured defences on both sides that were only cracked because of the masterful attacking play and some wonder strikes. The fans were truly treated to a special occasion day and some special moments.

Date: Friday 2nd May 2014
Venue: Riverside
Middlesbrough Home vs Middlesbrough Away
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Match Officials: Kyle Morrison, Dane McCarrick, Rory Sadler and Will Turnbull

It was the Away side that got the game underway adorning the blue and black away strip kicking from right to left. The game was slow to start until about 6 mins in when the Away side had their first sight at goal. A run down the left by No 10 Jamie Martin saw him exploit the space well. He then cut the ball back for centre forward Nicola Perazzini whose curling effort towards the far post was well blocked by full back Martin Mcleod.

With 15 mins played the game got its first goal, one which was produced by a hectic goalmouth scramble. The ball came in from a corner on the right side and as keeper Brian Hewitt went up for the ball he appeared to slip and couldn’t quite grasp the ball. He and Away captain Esposito were left lying on the floor as the ball rolled towards the far post and, unfortunately for retreating winger Craig Earl his attempted drag-back clearance with his studs didn’t stop the ball from going in and putting the Away team in the lead (0-1).

It wasn’t long however before the Home team had drawn level, thanks to an indescribably excellent effort from centre forward ‘The Boro Badger’. After picking up the ball in the centre of the field 15 yards from the opposition box, the Boro Badger decided to let one fly and it did just that, all the way into the top corner, leaving the goalie rooted to the spot (1-1)!

The game was turning into quite a spectacle, with the end-to-end play on show getting the crowd off their seats. The Away side were next to attack only to be foiled by Home goalie Brian Hewitt. A neat pass from No 11 Nicola Perazzini into his strike partner Andrea Esposito allowed the No 9 a clear shot at goal, although at a tight angle. His left-footed effort was well saved however, by the Home keeper to keep the scores level.

Just minutes later and the Away team were showing their attacking prowess and demonstrating some excellent finishing. The No 10 Jamie Martin picked the ball up on the edge of the box before faking a shot that fooled the defender, giving him space down the left side to rifle a shot into the roof of the net to pull his team back in front (1-2).

It would’ve been easy for the Home side to have given in to the Away team’s attacking power but they continued to press them high up the pitch and were rewarded for their efforts with a fine team goal. The Home No 10 Chris Spayne spread the ball out well to the left from the centre of the park to winger Craig Earl who threaded an inch-perfect pass into the No 23 Darren Smith, the forward finishing coolly to level the scores (2-2).

The game continued to ebb and flow with chances falling to both sides but it was the Away team who came closest to taking the lead again. A lovely cut-back ball from No 11 Perazzini to No 9 Esposito; however, the forward’s effort was blazed over the bar leaving him lying gutted in the goalmouth.

A couple of minutes to go to half-time and the Home side managed to take the lead for the first time in the game, courtesy of a gift from the Away team. A short clearance was headed back towards goal and into the path of striker Darren Smith by No 9 ‘the Boro Badger’. Having already got an eye for goal in the game, the striker made no mistake in curling it under goalie Richard Marsh (3-2).

The half came to an end with the Home team having achieved a narrow advantage. It was an enthralling half with great play at both ends of the pitch and some fantastic finishing, in particular from Jamie Martin and the ‘Boro Badger’. As well as the finishing there was some stellar performances in the centre of the park from both sides and some impressive team play. It also must be said that the goalkeepers from both sides kept the score at a reasonable count thanks to some excellent stops.

Half Time: Middlesbrough Home 3 - 2 Middlesbrough Away

In the dressing room at the break the Home team were having a great time, and rightly so because of the way they fought back twice. They looked at their positives from the half which included the stunning strike from the Boro Badger and the way they held their back line so well to catch the opposition strikers offside. In the Away dressing room they were also upbeat by their performance and discussed how they could exploit their opposition down the right side by passing it through them.

It was the Home team who were on the front foot immediately and they made this pressure count winning a penalty. As the ball was deflected to the penalty spot after a cross both Home No 2 Martin McLeod and Away No 10 Jamie Martin went for the ball but unfortunately for Martin his challenge took down McLeod and gave the referee little choice except to award a penalty. The Boro Badger promptly stepped up and fired it high into the roof of the net, a quality penalty (4-2).

Down the other end, straight from kick-off the Away team were surrounding the ref after what seemed a stone-wall penalty, seconds after conceding one themselves. Having been played in down the left side of the box, the Away No 14 Nick Medlicott was brought down blatantly by Home defender Mark Feehan. However; the ref deemed it as no more than a corner and the Home team got away with it.

Finally, the Home team’s high line at the back was caught out by a lovely low pass from No 10 Jamie Martin into winger Tomasz Matyjaszek. His effort was well saved at first by goalie but No 14 Nick Medlicott was there to follow up with an easy open goal shot with no defenders in the picture (4-3).

The Away team began to up the pressure, pushing for an equaliser and it came with just over 15 mins left in the game. It came after a great run across the park by No 14 Nick Medlicott who linked up well again with No 17 Tomasz Matyjaszek. The winger curled his effort past the goalie into the far corner and the Away side was back level after 75mins (4-4).

Just a minute later and the Away team took the lead. Again, it was No 10 Jamie Martin who was the creator with a lovely chipped ball into the run of centre forward Nicola Perazzini. He cleverly took it past the goalie before squeezing it into the near post to give his team the lead (4-5).

Sadly, after this goal, the Home goalie Brian Hewitt had to leave the pitch because of an injury he picked up earlier in the game, however Home No 15 Mark Feehan was quick to grab the gloves and offer his services between the sticks. Hewitt had played very well up until then, keeping his team in the game at several points in the first half when they were under particular pressure.

Feehan was chucked straight in at the deep end but coped very well. The Away No 14 Nick Medlicott cut in from the right before firing a hard, high effort that was expertly tipped over by Feehan for a corner. However, the goalie could do little about the next goal, which came from the penalty spot after the Home team's defender was penalised for a late challenge on No 11 Nicola Perazzini. Again, No 10 Jamie Martin was involved playing the ball into the centre forward who attempted to turn his man but was brought to the deck. Perazzini kindly gave it to his attacking partner Andrea Esposito who deposited it with ease into the top left corner of the goal (4-6).

As the game was nearing it’s end the Home side began to tire under the relentless attack of the Away team but were saved yet again by substitute keeper Mark Feehan. Looking to bag his 2nd goal of the afternoon, No 14 Nick Medlicott picked the ball up just outside the box before firing a thunderous effort that was palmed wide impressively by the approaching Feehan.

From the corner however, Feehan’ efforts were outdone despite making another double save. Quality striker Nicola Perazzini had two shots saved at the near post by Feehan before the ball then fell to centre half Simon Phillips who crashed his effort off the bar. The play seemed to go in slow motion as the ball, yet again, fell to an Away team member, No 17 Tomasz Matyjaszek, who toe-poked his 2nd of the game into the back of the net (4-7).

The game ended in a fairly comfortable victory for the Away side who found another gear after the break. Some brilliant attacking play from trio Jamie Martin, Nicola Perazzini and Andrea Esposito produced several goals and some pleasing on the eye play. As well as this there was the impressive team-up of Nick Medlicott and Tomasz Matyjeszek that caused problems throughout the 2nd half for the Home team. It is easy to forget however, that the Home team was the better side in the fist half thanks to impressive performances from the Boro Badger and Darren Smith. As well as those two, Mark Feehan had a blinder when he replaced Hewitt in goal. Overall it was a cracking game of football and an excellent return to the Riverside for Football Aid and the Boro fans will certainly be hoping for more of the same in 2015!

Full Time: Middlesbrough Home 4 - 7 Middlesbrough Away

Man of the Match Home: Darren Smith
Man of the Match Away: Jamie Martin
Moment of the Match: Boro Badger

Home Team: Brian Hewitt, Martin Mcleod, Spencer Downey, Nathan McLean, Craig Bell, Lee Ryder, Craig Earl, Boro Badger (C), Chris Spayne, Darren Smith, Jordan Rivis, Mark Feehan, Martin Mcleod, Craig Earl
Home Team Mascot: Charlie Bell

Away Team: Richard Marsh, Kevin Banks, Simon Phillips, Andrew Hamilton, Tom Haigh, Jamie Madden, Elliott Ford, Andrea Esposito (C), Jamie Martin, Nicola Perazzini, Nick Medlicott, Tom Haigh, Elliott Ford, Tomasz Matyjaszek
Away Team Mascot: Reuben Crossman