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FLW Rewind

‘Better than a Pulis special’, ‘Plenty to build on’ – The Middlesbrough opener which warned what would follow under Jonathan Woodgate



This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Rewind’ series, this content strand is where we rewind back to a particular moment at a club, assess the initial reaction from the fans, and then proceed to evaluate and reflect on whether fans were right to react in that way….

The 2019-20 campaign got off to a lively start with one of the most entertaining season-openers in recent memory for Middlesbrough supporters.

In hindsight, fans maybe should seen the warning signs.

Jonathan Woodgate took over as manager of his boyhood club ahead of the current season and told fans exactly what they wanted to hear as he promised expansive, attacking football that would get supporters on the edge of their seat.

If the opening day trip to Kenilworth Road was anything to go by he certainly wasn’t lying.

Taking on a side who had just been promoted from League One may have seemed like an easy opener on paper, but Luton Town were determined to everything in their power to make things difficult for Woodgate on his first matchday.

Ashley Fletcher gave Middlesbrough the lead, but efforts from Sonny Bradley and Martin Cranie gave the Hatters a surprise advantage before the half-hour mark.

Britt Assombalonga struck before the break, then Lewis Wing scored a stunning effort to reclaim Middlesbrough’s lead.

It had been a long time since supporters had seen such attacking intent from their side following 18 months under Tony Pulis’ leadership – but say what you want about the Welshman, he certainly knew how to see out a game.

Assombalonga could have put the game to bed with a penalty, however, the usually-reliable striker skied his effort way over the bar, before James Collins popped up in the final minutes to salvage a memorable point for the newly-promoted side who were very much riding the wave of their promotion campaign.

It was two points dropped for Middlesbrough, and such defensive frailties should have been a lesson into what could be in store during the season – but unfortunately hindsight doesn’t apply to Championship level football.

While coming away with just one point supporters were generally happy with the performance, with many claiming it was nice to be entertained with a thrilling encounter on the opening day.

If they thought that was a rollercoaster they only needed to wait to see what the rest of the season had in store.

Here’s what the fans had to say about Jonathan Woodgate’s first game in charge.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: ‘Better than a Pulis special’, ‘Plenty to build on’ – The Middlesbrough opener which warned what would follow under Jonathan Woodgate

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