A new Middlesbrough approach and plenty of goals: Three things we learnt from Luton draw
Middlesbrough missed the chance to claim an opening day win at Luton in a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw at Kenilworth Road – but what did we learn from the game.
The Hatters came from behind to take the lead after goals from Sonny Bradley and Martin Craine followed Ashley Fletcher’s opener.
Britt Assombalonga and Lewis Wing then put Boro ahead, before the former missed a penalty and Luton striker James Collins levelled five minutes from time.
Boro must improve from set-plays – Boro’s side isn’t exactly short of height, yet the Teessiders looked particularly vulnerable when defending set-plays.
Jonathan Woodgate’s side also conceded some cheap free-kicks which allowed the Luton to apply pressure by crossing the ball into the box.
Luton’s second goal was far too simple when an in-swinging corner was nodded home by Martin Craine at the far post.
Boro were also overrun in midfield for large spells during the first half but recovered to take control after the break.
Marvin Johnson has a part to play this season – The 28-year-old winger has struggled in a Boro shirt since his move from Oxford in 2017.
Johnson spent last season on loan at Sheffield United but has been handed a fresh start under Woodgate.
Operating on the right, Johnson looked like he would create something whenever he received the ball in the first half, cutting inside onto his favoured left foot.
Johnson’s cross on seven minutes led to Ashley Fletcher’s opener and he would have got on the score sheet if it wasn’t for an excellent save from goalkeeper Simon Sluga.
Hayden Coulson also showed what he’s capable of and was a constant threat from left-back in the second half.
If you don’t shoot you don’t score – It’s an obvious statement but one which you felt needed reiterating at times last season.
Only four teams in the Championship scored less goals than Boro last term as the side often looked blunt and conservative in attack.
Here, though, Boro weren’t afraid to try their luck, with Assombalonga’s goal going straight through Sluga.
Wing was also keen to try his luck and, while a couple of shots flew off target, his stunning effort on 68 paid off.