Beaten from a distance at the Riverside

Last updated : 22 August 2012 By Tony Scholes

Those last two Middlesbrough goals were sensational strikes, of that there can be no doubt, but we can't use that as the reason for coming home with nothing after a second half performance that deserved little else.

First Burnley goal for Junior Stanislas

We allowed Middlesbrough to dictate after the break, and this after a first half when we were the better side and we really should have gone into the interval in front rather than level at 1-1. But the second half was a different story and I don't think anyone in the end could deny that Middlesbrough were deserving of the points.

Travelling up and down the country can be a hazardous pastime but to learn of road closures just ahead of leaving for the first away game of the season was a bit much. The A19 had been closed because of a vehicle fire but the route via the A1 and A66, taking in the delights of the previously named Reynolds Arena, home of Darlington, proved to be an easy alternative meaning an early enough arrival at the Riverside.

The Burnley fans were greeted on arrival with the news that Martin Paterson, so influential in the win against Bolton three days earlier, was out of the side. There was speculation that he'd been rested but that didn't look likely given there was no sign of him even on the bench. Eddie Howe gave the reason after the game, confirming that Pato had felt some tightness after the Bolton game and wasn't risked and suggesting they were just hopeful that he'd be available for Saturday.

Sam Vokes came into the starting eleven in his place with Shay McCartan taking Vokes' place on the bench. It was a first start for Vokes this season and his first Burnley start since the home defeat against Portsmouth last December.

If we thought we might start in the same manner as we'd played against Bolton,  we weren't disappointed. In the opening period of the game we were much the better side and should probably have been able to edge ourselves in front.

We'd gone in front there in the sixth minute last season and we should have repeated that last night as Chris McCann set up Ross Wallace, but the Scot screwed his right footed shot wide of the post.

A goal looked likely with most of the play towards the home goal but it didn't come and as the half progressed so Middlesbrough did begin to get a foothold into the game.

Even so, defending the end where the Burnley fans were situated, I was never overly concerned that they would get a breakthrough and Lee Grant was largely untroubled in goal.

For ten minutes or so it became something of a stalemate but then we stepped things up again and this time we did get the goal, and it was no surprise it came from Charlie Austin.

Charlie's certainly been amongst the goals. He scored five in the five pre-season games, and has now scored in each of our three competitive games. This time he was first to a Kieran Trippier cross, heading it down and past goalkeeper Jason Steele.

Four minutes from half time, we'd got the lead that, overall, we'd deserved. Unfortunately, within less than 30 seconds of the restart it was back square at 1-1.

Boro launched the ball forward; they won the header against Jason Shackell and it dropped for Nicky Bailey. He's made a habit of scoring against Burnley and he hit an unerring shot into the bottom corner that Lee Grant had absolutely no chance of stopping.

We came close to snatching the lead again right on the break when Vokes turned well but saw his effort deflected for a corner. Incredibly, with seconds of the half remaining, we dallied and didn't even get the ball in from the flag kick.

And so it was 1-1 at half time. We should have been in front but any hopes of going on and winning this game were dashed in a second half that was, frankly, all Middlesbrough.

Whatever was said by the two managers during the break, it certainly swung things in their favour. They took the game to us and we just seemed to retreat further and further.

We hadn't shown too much tempo in the first half but now it was almost pedestrian like. There was no movement and we continued to give the ball away time and time again whilst their ball retention was so much better.

Inevitably that was going to put us under some pressure and just before the hour we made our first change with Marvin Bartley coming on for the very disappointing Vokes. All that served to do is drop us further back and for some time before it came a Middlesbrough goal really did look inevitable.

With thirteen minutes to go we made a second change. Ben Mee came on to add defensive reinforcements and off went Wallace, another to disappoint. Before Mee had been given chance to settle in the game we were behind.

The goal came from Adam Reach. He turned inside Mee and hit an unstoppable shot into the far corner. It was a hell of a strike but there was better to come.

Suddenly, facing defeat, we finally came forward for really the first time in the half and it took us just seven minutes to draw level with Junior Stanislas getting his first ever Burnley goal. That it shouldn't have been credited to him won't bother him at all today.

Trippier it was again who crossed. It was met by McCann at the far post and he headed goalwards only for Rhys Williams to clear. It had crossed the line, absolutely no doubt about that and a goal should have been awarded.

It didn't matter. Stanislas was onto the rebound and hit it home, this time hitting Williams who was, by then, in the back of the net.

There were just four minutes remaining. We'd got ourselves out of jail and set for a point, but sadly we just retreated again, allowed Middlesbrough to come at us and this time it took them two minutes to reply to a Burnley goal.

If we thought their second was a stunner then this one beat it as substitute Luke Williams, who had come on just before our second goal, stunned the who ground with a 35-yarder that simply flew in.

It brought back memories of Tarmo Kink from two years ago. Once again we'd been hit with two worldy goals but we can't let this disguise the fact that we were just second fiddle to Middlesbrough throughout the second half, other than the short period when the score was 2-1.

We did storm forward again. Shackell went up front and we launched a few balls into the box. Nothing came of it and when the final whistle went, we'd suffered our first defeat of the season.

Quite what happened in that second half and why it happened I don't know. Middlesbrough did not look a good side but we just seemed to let them have the ball and hope to contain them. Yes, it took two goals like that to beat us but for much of that second half, given the way it went, there was only one side that could ever win it.

Even Howe, whilst defending his players, admitted: "Perhaps we sat a little too deep in the second half." That's exactly what we did, we sat, and it was too deep. There were points to be had here and we didn't get them.

I've decided that playing night games at this ground is not the best idea. Including the cup tie against Darlington in 1998, we've played here three times now in night games. In each one we've been in front and we've lost all three. Hopefully, next time it will be a Saturday.

As for this coming Saturday. I do hope we have Paterson back. There was just no movement up front last night and that meant we played the game very slowly.

Still, it's early days. Hopefully we'll get this out of our system very quickly because we can't afford to have too many games where we played as we did last night in the second half.

The teams were;

Middlesbrough: Jason Steele, Justin Hoyte, Rhys Williams, Jonathan Woodgate, George Friend, Josh McEachran, Nicky Bailey (Richard Smallwood 72), Grant Leadbitter, Adam Reach, Main (Luke Williams 84), Emmanuel Ledesma (Merouane Zemmama 69), Subs not used: Jayson Leutwiler, Seb Hines, Faris Haroun, Andy Halliday.
Yellow Card: Jonathan Woodgate.

Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, David Edgar, Jason Shackell, Joseph Mills, Dean Marney, Ross Wallace (Ben Mee 77), Chris McCann, Charlie Austin, Sam Vokes (Marvin Bartley 59), Junior Stanislas. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Michael Duff, Brian Stock, Alex MacDonald, Shay McCartan.
Yellow Card: Marvin Bartley.

Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).

Attendance: 15,559 (including 618 Clarets).