Joe Lumley impresses as Middlesbrough improves but can’t break through – Derby take away
Boro had to settle for a point against Derby in what was a blood affair at Pride Park.
The hosts had the best of the first half, but Boro took control in the second and pushed and probed for the opener that never came.
Here are the takeaways:
Major boost at 2 p.m.
There was a welcome surprise at 2 p.m. when Marcus Tavernier was named in the starting XI for the first time this season.
Boro has been understandably cautious with the playmaker during the first few weeks of the season, with Warnock keen to ensure Tavernier’s return is permanent and not premature. And for everything Boro has been through without Tavernier, there’s no doubt they’re a much better team when the 22-year-old’s name is on the roster.
He was one of three changes at Derby, with Sam Morsy unsurprisingly entering the squad to add the missing midfield steel against QPR. Lee Peltier also entered for his first start at right-back, with Anfernee Dijksteel playing an advanced role down the right side in what looked like a 4-1-4-1.
It didn’t quite click in the first half as Boro struggled to show his leading teeth.
The Derby center-half of Curtis Davies and Phil Jagielka was a combined age of 75, so pace was surely the answer for Boro, but Uche Ikpeazu lacked support and service as Tavernier, Jones and Crooks struggled to enter the game.
Indeed, while far from dominating, it was the hosts who had the best of the opening 45, with Max Bird and Sam Baldock closing in.
Joe Lumley raised his hands in the dressing room following Wednesday’s loss to QPR, admitting he shouldn’t have let Lyndon Dykes’ second half volley wiggle between his legs to put Rangers 2-1 .
Three days later, he made up for it with his best display in a Boro shirt so far.
Lumley made three nice saves to prevent the hosts, two in the first half and one in the second.
First, as the Derby broke at high speed with a man, Lumley made an excellent one-handed save to turn down Max Bird as he tried to pick his spot. At the end of the half, he rushed out of his line to save at Baldock’s feet. And then, in what was a rare Derby attack in the second half, he descended to his right to make a superb full stop with Louie Sibley preparing to pull away to celebrate.
In the midst of stoppage time, Boro fans sang the goalkeeper name. It was a deserved adulation.
Who was your man of the match against Derby?
It was by no means a bad-tempered affair, but it was full of blood and threatened to spill over once or twice.
A recent rivalry has formed due to battles on and off the pitch, which both groups of fans have hinted at in the song.
And there was bite in the meeting on the field, which only increased the volume in the stands.
Spirits nearly exploded in the middle of the second half when home debutant Phil Jagielka crushed Jonny Howson right outside the dugout. Honest Howson isn’t the type to make the most of a challenge, but he remained calm and needed treatment, as teammates and coaches from both sides surrounded the officials.
After consulting his fourth referee, the referee opted for a yellow.
Improvement in the second semester
Derby might have taken the lead in the first half, but Boro were the better side in the second and if anyone wanted to win it was the visitors.
They pinned the Rams, the increasingly influential Tavernier, and Jones coming to life. Boro sought out the young winger at every opportunity and his speed terrified the hosts.
Tavernier was also pulling the strings. He tested Roos with an effort, then created Boro’s best chance with a cross that found substitute Howson at the far post, but his header was saved well. Howson’s introduction helped Boro gain control.
He teamed up with Morsy in midfield, with Dijksteel falling to the right-back, and Boro spent much of the second half pushing and probing.
Boro came within inches of a game opener with five minutes remaining thanks to Crooks, but his header cut off the top of the bar.