Football: Robson the realist

Sheffield Wednesday 3 Middlesbrough 1
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The Independent Online
There was no phoney optimism or hard luck story from Bryan Robson this time. "This really puts us in trouble," declared the manager after Middlesbrough's latest setback in the Premiership.

Robson was at a loss to explain how a team who have acquitted themselves so creditably in cup competition should flounder so alarmingly in the League. "When we play in cup games we press teams and our movement and passing is good but when we go back to League games we are lethargic until something happens," he said. "We have got to snap out of that or we will be relegated."

Even David Pleat, the Wednesday manager, failed to find any words of encouragement for the Teesside club. "They have got it all to do looking at the other results," he said. Wednesday, he said, had been "gritty without being clever" in winning.

"I didn't think there was enough constructive play but there was a swirling wind which made it difficult. Middlesbrough didn't create anything in the first period but at 2-0 they had to come at us in the second period."

In maintaining their chase for a place in Europe, Wednesday had avenged a 4-2 defeat by Robson's side - their only defeat, in fact, in the last 21 games.

Wednesday went ahead when Middlesbrough lost the ball in midfield and Andy Booth stooped to head home a Mark Pembridge cross. And another defensive blunder just before half-time made their task even harder. Benito Carbone pumped the ball into the area and as the defence froze, midfielder Graham Hyde nipped in to tuck the ball beyond Mark Schwarzer's reach from 12 yards.

Middlesbrough were fortunate to reduce the arrears when a Robbie Mustoe shot struck Steve Nicol and ballooned over goalkeeper Kevin Pressman, but a late penalty by Pembridge, following a foul by Steve Vickers on Booth, dashed their hopes.

Goals: Booth (21) 1-0; Hyde (43) 2-0; Mustoe (72) 2-1; Pembridge pen (90) 3-1.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Atherton, Newsome, Walker, Nolan; Carbone (Blinker 78), Pembridge, Hyde (Stefanovic, 90), Nicol; Hirst (Humphreys, 78), Booth. Substitutes not used: Clarke (gk), Briscoe.

Middlesbrough: (3-4-1-2): Schwarzer; Whyte (Stamp, 45), Festa, Vickers; Cox, Emerson, Kinder, Mustoe; Juninho; Ravanelli, Moore (Beck, 45). Substitutes not used: Pearson, Hignett, Roberts (gk).

Referee: G S Willard (Worthing).

Bookings: Wednesday: Pembridge, Booth. Middlesbrough: Mustoe, Cox, Festa.

Man of the match: Hyde.

Attendance: 28,206.