Barmby restores the edge for Boro

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The Independent Online

Notts County 1 Middlesbrough 2

With Nick Barmby back and Bryan Robson taking midfield by the scruff of the neck, Middlesbrough looked more like themselves. Those who came to see Juninho sparkle instead saw the veteran player-manager and his English jewel shine brightest through the Meadow Lane mist.

If Robson was the driving force then Barmby, missing for five matches with an injured Achilles tendon, was the cutting edge that Middlesbrough have lacked without Jan Fjortoft, Craig Hignett and him. In the space of two minutes, at the start of the second half, the England forward created one goal and scored another, delivering the cross from which Jamie Pollock put Robson's side in front and then doubling the lead with a well-placed angled shot.

Juninho could claim a part in Pollock's strike, it being his precise, instant through pass that launched Barmby's run. The Brazilian worried County throughout, recovering from an early, painful encounter with Endsleigh League tackling technique to make a series of jinking dribbles, each of which invariably ran aground amid of clutch of panic-stricken defenders.

He has a delicate touch and is a gutsy fellow. But what he does not do is take hold of a game. Perhaps one day he will but now he seems to need others to bring out the best in him, to which end Middlesbrough could do with more Robsons and more Barmbys.

Given their relative recent form - County beaten once in 11 games, Middlesbrough losing more than they win - this could have ended in tears but the Second Division side, unable to unsettle their opponents more than fleetingly, were tame underdogs.

A debut goal by Paul Rogers, fresh in from Sheffield United, shattered Middlesbrough's dreams of strolling into the fourth-round draw, but neither before nor afterwards did another look likely.

Goals: Pollock (46) 0-1; Barmby (48) 0-2; Rogers (52) 1-2.

Notts County (3-5-2): Ward; Murphy, Strodder, Hogg; Gallagher, Rogers, Turner (Simpson, 67), Legg (White, 76), Baraclough (Agana, 83); Devlin, Arkins.

Middlesbrough (3-4-3): Walsh; Vickers, Pearson, Whelan; Liddle, Pollock, Robson, Fleming (Stamp 31); Barmby (Moreno 89), Wilkinson, Juninho. Substitute not used: Miller (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

Bookings: Notts County: Murphy. Middlesbrough: Liddle, Robson.

Man of the match: Barmby.

Attendance: 12,621.