The Good, the Bad and the Opposition: Observations from Middlesbrough’s 2-0 defeat to Barnsley in EFL Cup Round 2
Middlesbrough 0-2 Barnsley
EFL Cup Round Two
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
September 15th, 2020
Middlesbrough were dumped out of the EFL Cup courtesy of a quality performance from Barnsley on Tuesday night. Luke Thomas was pivotal for Barnsley and dished out assists to Patrick Schmidt and Jordan Williams as the Tykes cruised into the third round where a glamour clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge awaits.
You can find a detailed match report on the official club website here.
1 – MARCUS TAVERNIER
It has been a stuttering start to the season for Middlesbrough, but Tavernier is showing signs of what could be a breakout season for him if this level of performance can be maintained. The 21 year old midfielder is showcasing high energy, quality on the ball and good defensive work rate in the early stages of this season.
2 – THE ARRIVAL OF SAM MORSY
The signing of Egypt international Morsy has been met with a widely positive reaction from the Boro fan base. The use of only one substitute at Watford showed Neil Warnock has serious doubts about the depth of the squad, and Morsy is a quality addition to the ranks. This was not a spectacular debut, but it is a game under the belt for a player Warnock hopes to play a big role this season.
3 – FORWARD DEPTH
Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher have scored 5 goals each since the arrival of Warnock late last season, but there seems little cover or alternative in the striking department. Indeed, it seems widely accepted that a new striker will likely be signed in the coming weeks.
One of the few positives to come out of a disappointing result for Middlesbrough is the emergence of two players who showed the ability to push for involvement this season.
Marcus Browne arrived at the club from West Ham United in the summer of 2019, and this was only his 16th game for the club without a goal being scored yet. With that said, Browne put in a quality performance here and was arguably Boro’s best player on the night.
Later in the game, Sam Folarin came off the bench for his Middlesbrough debut and also managed to make a positive first impression. Folarin showed pace and power, and a very high defensive work rate, also going down in the area for a late penalty appeal that was waved away by referee Anthony Backhouse.
1 – WARNOCK HEALTH
Manager Warnock felt “unwell” when arriving at the stadium, and watched the game from a corporate box as assistant manager Kevin Blackwell took charge in the dugout. The club will be hoping for a swift return to full health for a manager who has boosted the performance and morale of the squad since his arrival.
2 – MARCUS BETTINELLI
Boro signed former Fulham goalkeeper Bettinelli just before the season kicked off to solidify the position after some questionable performances over last season from both Dejan Stojanovic and Aynsley Pears.
After a solid debut, Bettinelli was flat footed for Schmidt’s opener in this game, and then appeared to be beaten far too easily at his near post by Williams as Barnsley extended their lead in the first half.
3 – CUP RUN OVER
There may be a slight ease in fixture congestion when a team exits a tournament, but a fixture at Chelsea next week would have given some real excitement to the fan base, particularly if Boro had produced an upset win.
Instead, it is back to back defeats for Boro as they look to get some results and goals under their belt in the season’s early stages.
THE OPPOSITION – BARNSLEY
1 – PLAYMAKER THOMAS PULLING STRINGS
Thomas tormented Middlesbrough from an attacking central midfield role behind the Austrian strike pair of Schmidt and Dominik Frieser.
Williams played the final pass on both strikes and was at the fulcrum of many Barnsley attacks in an impressive performance that will have pleased his manager Gerhard Struber.
2 – GIANT KILLING OPPORTUNITY
A trip to Stamford Bridge in round three will provide a boost for the Tykes on many different levels. The financial boost of a televised fixture, the excitement of a chance to claim a landmark win, and a true chance for Struber and his players to pit themselves against the top level of opposition available.
Barnsley have yet to get off the mark in terms of league points so far this season, but the feel good factor of this win, and any potential result against Chelsea will boost morale in the dressing room.
3 – FC BARNSELONA!
The quality of football on display from Barnsley was impressive and entertaining, a fact that showed through in the buildup and finish of both first half goals. Barnsley were among the preseason favorites for relegation, but look to have plenty of quality on the ball and attacking threat, likely enough to stay in the division come season’s end.
22’ BAR Patrick Schmidt (Luke Thomas) 0-1
34 BAR Jordan Williams (Luke Thomas) 0-2
MAN OF THE MATCH
#16 CM Luke Thomas (Barnsley) – The playmaker found dangerous positions between the Middlesbrough lines time and again and showed the skill and quality to capitalize when given the ball. Capped an excellent performance by providing the assist on both Barnsley goals.
3: CF Marcus Browne – Worked hard as a front runner and threatened the Barnsley back line with pace in behind.
2: CM Marcus Tavernier – Provided the link between midfield and the forwards while showing a tireless desire to press and hassle Barnsley on the defensive end.
1: CM Lewis Wing – Active display from Wing who tried to drive the attack in what was a disappointing night for Boro.
3: CM Luke Thomas – Man of the Match.
2: CD Michal Helik – Anchor of a strong back three, showed strength in the air and quality on the ball for the visitors.
1: CM Alex Mowatt – The captain won plenty of ball in midfield and connected possession, was a key factor in Barnsley gaining the upper hand in the midfield third.
MID: Bettinelli, Wood, Fry, Dijksteel (McNair), Bola, Wing, Tavernier, Morsy (Howson), Coulson, Browne, Fletcher (Folarin).
BAR: Collins, Andersen, Ludewig (Styles), Helik, Solbauer (Halme), Mowatt, Ritzmaier, Williams, Thomas (Woodrow), Frieser, Schmidt.
Highlights of the game can be found on the club’s official website here.