Football: Boro's misery deepens

No pace, no points and no plusses for Gascoigne. Fortunately, there is no Keegan either; Sheffield Wednesday 3 Middlesbrough 1 Booth 11, 80 Mustoe 78 Sonner 77 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 24,534

IT WAS beneath the seven hills of Rome that Paul Gascoigne last showed himself to be a player of effective, if no longer inspirational, international class. In the shadow of Sheffield's seven hills yesterday he looked a player of barely club class. Fifteen months on from his display in the Stadio Olimpico, the faded star of English football failed to shine in this meeting of top-flight low-lights at Hillsborough. Gascoigne spent 45 minutes as a huffing, puffing midfield passenger before being ushered into a sideline seat to watch the second-half completion of Middlesbrough's latest reverse.

Bryan Robson's free-falling team have not won since they left Old Trafford with their sights on Europe the Saturday before Christmas. Bernie Slaven, Boro old boy turned local pundit, chose to celebrate that famous 3-2 victory by baring his behind in the window of Binns department store. But it is Middlesbrough's shortcomings that have been publicly exposed in recent weeks. Two goals by Andy Booth and one by Danny Sonner consigned them to their 10th match without a win. Their slide towards the Premiership's nether region is gathering rapid momentum.

The same cannot be said of the Gazza for England bandwagon. Officially, the portly midfielder was withdrawn at half-time because of a sore knee. But the fact that he had been shown his 12th yellow card of the season, for a post-dated challenge as Sonner passed him by, also influenced Robson's decision. Not for the first time, and with an FA disciplinary hearing to face, Gascoigne looked like a red card waiting to happen as half-time approached. "I didn't want to risk him getting sent-off," Robson confessed.

That Gascoigne was a red-faced and flagging figure, though, must have been a factor too. Kevin Keegan may have the Geordie enigma "in mind" as he ponders his squad for the European Championship qualifier against Poland next month but it was just as well for Gascoigne that he was out of sight of England's part-time caretaker manager yesterday. Keegan was far from the Hillsborough crowd, in the visitors' dug-out at Bootham Crescent in his full-time capacity as Fulham's chief operating officer, but his second-hand reports will tell him what regular Middlesbrough-watchers already know: that, at 31, Gascoigne has lost what speed he once possessed.

He was badly off the pace even before the frustrated lunge at Sonner that drew his 10th minute caution. He was caught in possession by Sonner and brushed aside with nonchalant ease by Petter Rudi as Wednesday ran the midfield show. He managed just the one creative contribution: an inswinging right-wing corner from which Colin Cooper headed narrowly over.

Middlesbrough were better without Gascoigne, with the markedly more mobile presence of Neil Maddison in central midfield. But they lacked the attacking clout to make their fight-back pay after allowing Wednesday to assume total control in the opening quarter. Both Booth and Benito Carbone went close as spectators were still taking their seats and Boro bowed to the Wednesday pressure with 11 minutes on the clock. Booth beat Mark Schwarzer with a low finish after Andy Hinchcliffe found him unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

Middlesbrough were in a mess at that stage, ponderous at the back, plodding in midfield and barely perceptible up front. Wednesday took their foot off the pedal, though, inviting Boro forward and into the game as half- time approached. Kevin Pressman had to make a fine reflex save to keep out a downward header by Mikkel Beck, who proceeded to miss one of the sitters of the season after the dithering of Des Walker and Peter Atherton left him with a clear shot at the home goal. Gary Pallister also headed an Andy Townsend free-kick off Pressman's crossbar but the chances dried up for Middlesbrough after the break.

They did find the back of the Wednesday net, Robbie Mustoe bundling the ball past Pressman in the 77th minute - only the second Middlesbrough goal in seven matches. Unfortunately for Boro, though, their breakthrough was sandwiched between the concession of two headed goals. A minute earlier Sonner had risen to convert a Wim Jonk cross and two minutes later Hinchcliffe teed up Booth for the clincher.

"We've got two games at home now," Robson said, "and we've got to turn our season round in them." The Middlesbrough manager has not had the best of times away from home of late.

Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Extras
indybest

Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition