Boro v Aston Villa - Post-match reaction & 2nd leg debate

So, the first 90 mins are done and dusted with Aston Villa taking a slender lead back to Villa Park on Tuesday with a hard-fought 1-0 win.

Boro v Aston Villa - Post-match reaction & 2nd leg debate

As I expected, there wasn’t much between the two teams with Villa nicking a goal off a corner which Boro should’ve defended a lot better. The goal itself wasn’t particularly one player’s fault, Shotton was blocked off, Assombalonga didn’t follow his runner and Gibson didn’t read the danger to remain on the back post.

Boro I thought didn’t play badly but they did huff and puff a bit, the game somewhat reminded me of the Wolves game. For all the industry and hard work, there wasn’t much in the way of clear-cut chances until Fabio began causing a few problems down the right flank. The issue is also what to do with Adama and the severe man marking he will be encountered with again at Villa Park. As Elmohamady is a doubt do you try and move him to the left? Or even spring a tactical surprise and play him in a number 10 role, similar to what Grealish played exceptionally well at in the first leg.

There’s definitely going to need to be some improvements from some players who I didn’t think had particularly great games. I thought Friend was quite poor in general with his passing and positioning while I’d of liked to of seen Downing take on more shots rather than the simple sideways passes. Assombalonga was quite isolated for most of the game but it is frustrating to see someone with his frame being bullied so regularly by centre backs.

For the second leg, I would like to see Pulis take a bit of a chance and really have a go at Villa, perhaps a 4-3-3 with Adama, Assombalonga, and Bamford with Fabio coming into a fullback role, all providing a bit more threat in the final third. The problem is, especially is Ayala is injured, I can’t see Villa not scoring at least one goal.

Boro hold talks with players following confrontation at Newport

Boro hold talks with players following confrontation at Newport

Multiple claims of the players confronting fans at the Newport game emerged on social media which forced Boro to take action.

"They get paid good money to play a game of football" - Tony Pulis

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis pulled no punches in the aftermath of seeing his team dumped out of the FA Cup by League Two side Newport.

Confused right now: Will the real Middlesbrough Football Club please stand up?

Confused right now: Will the real Middlesbrough Football Club please stand up?

I can honestly say I’ve never been so confused about how I feel right now.

George Saville bullish after Middlesbrough win at West Brom

George Saville bullish after Middlesbrough win at West Brom

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis also expressed his appreciation for the striker Britt Assombalonga who played a crucial role in the comeback.