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Middlesbrough's Pre-Season: Game Three

Thursday 21st July 2011
Middlesbrough's rounded off their third and final pre-season game abroad with a draw against top Turkish side Antalyaspor in Northern Slovenia.

Maloury Martin and Barry Robson made their first starts of the pre-season and Merouane Zemmama also played a part after not being able to compete in Croatia due to a visa problem.

Connor Ripley also made his first start of the pre-season after another injury hit Boro's keepers. Danny Coyne was left on the bench after a slight injury, but nothing to cause too much concern.

Boro continued their form from the previous win against NK Varazdin with some flowing passing moves in the early minutes that created opportunities for the ever present strike force of Leroy Lita and Scott McDonald.

However it was Antalyaspor who struck first, having the ball in the back of Ripley's goal after 15 minutes, but only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.

As the previous two games against BB Istanbull and Varazdin have been, this was a very open encounter with both teams squandering glorious opportunities.

Antalyaspor were looking the more threatening as they hit opposite posts twice in quick succession. First, Turkish international Necati Ates beat Ripley before Musa Aydin stole the ball away from Zemmama before striking the other upright.

Boro had a number of strikes from Lita and Bennett, but nothing that really troubled the keeper.

Antalyaspor pressed for an opener before the half, but some dogged defending from the promising partnership of Rhys Williams and Stephen McManus kept the scores level after 45.

Four new players entered the fray for Boro at the half. Hoyte and Grounds were the new full-backs. Robson moved infield to accompany Bates (on for Martin) in centre midfield, leaving the left wing open for Bennett to command, while Luke Williams replaced McDonald up front.

The game became more competitive and after a flurry of cards and another good save by Ripley, Mowbray decided to shake things up a bit.

Reach, Main, Kink, Franks and Miller all took to the pitch, leaving only Rhys Williams and Connor Ripley with 90 minutes.

Kink provided a similar spark as he had done coming off the bench during the 2010/11 season, and had two long range shots fly wide of the mark.

There were a few more opportunities at both ends with Franks testing Omer Catkig in the Antalyaspor net, and Ripley showing Mowbray that he could be considered for a promotion with a fantastic one-on-one save.

The game ended 0-0, but it was a good result against a Turkish Super Lig team who have been regular competitors in European competition.

After the game Joe Bennett said Antalyaspor were "possibly the worst team we played against

"They were slow and had no tempo to their game. They just wanted to play keep ball."

Boro now travel home to play against Darlington, Carlisle and PSV Eindhoven before the 2011/12 season kicks off.

 

Matty's MoM: Connor Ripley for a number of crucial saves. Showed great handling and a capacity to read the flow of the game throughout.
Matthew Norman
20-year-old Multimedia Journalism student at Teesside University. Die-hard Middlesbrough supporter and all-round sports fanatic.

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