Middlesbrough 2 Crewe 2 (Crewe win 4-2 on penalties)
THIS was an early learning experience for Middlesbrough’s rookie boss Jonathan Woodgate, a night when he was a picture of frustration in his technical area as his youthful team never looked in control against lower league opposition and paid the price.
Even when Boro finally responded to his calls to come from two goals down to snatch a draw in the dying seconds, it was Crewe Alexandra of League Two who still deservedly got to celebrate in the end after winning a penalty shoot-out.
Woodgate turned away and headed for the tunnel, with a backdrop of a few boos as well as applause from more respectful supporters, but he will share the frustrations of watching Middlesbrough bow out of the Carabao Cup at the first attempt under his guidance.
Make no mistake he wanted to progress, despite making the ten changes to the side that started the Championship game against Brentford. His extensive tinkering should have provided an opportunity for those given a chance to stake a claim for a league start, he is likely to have learned something from this though.
Instead this defeat and performance provided something of a reminder of how thin this Middlesbrough squad is, and that was clear by the time the half-time whistle was blown.
Crewe, who had looked dangerous throughout the first half, had edged two goals in front in the final four minutes of the first half. Chris Porter and Charlie Kirk ensured the visitors made the most of the gaps in the Middlesbrough backline to take control.
That led to boos and jeers from the small home support, as Woodgate held his cheeks in frustration, and there was more of that after the restart when striker Rudy Gestede was singled out for criticism after an ineffective night saw him replaced by Ashley Fletcher on the hour.
Quarter of an hour later Fletcher responded with a sweet goal to put Middlesbrough back into it and then summer signing Marc Bola, who had disappointed himself in the opening period, made amends with a late leveller to send the game to penalties.
Crewe still had the extra quality from 12 yards to get the job done.
While every one of their takers beat Aynsley Pears, Middlesbrough were left to rue another missed penalty from Assombalonga (missing the target) and Marcus Browne’s weak effort was held by goalkeeper Dave Richards.
That was that and there will not …read more
Source:: Daily Times