Super strikes steal win for Middlesbrough over Burnley

Middlesbrough's Luke Williams
Middlesbrough's Luke Williams

IT was a tale of three wonder goals for Tony Mowbray as Middlesbrough sealed their first win of the npower Championship season in dramatic style.

Having named a youthful team to face Burnley, the Boro manager’s gamble paid off as stunning long-range efforts from Nicky Bailey, Adam Reach and Luke Williams overturned a one-goal deficit, earning the lead late in the second half and ultimately clinching victory in the dying minutes.

Charlie Austin’s headed effort was cancelled out by a Bailey daisycutter moments before the break, with Reach edging Boro ahead with a left-footed screamer in the 79th minute.

Junior Stanislas looked to have taken the wind out of the hosts’ sails with a late equaliser but Williams shattered the travelling fans’ hopes with a dramatic first goal for his boyhood club.

And Mowbray was quick to praise the trio’s heroics, saying: “Nicky struck his in from 20 yards but watching the last two goals back from Reach and Williams, it’s good to see they’ve got that in their locker.

“Reach has got a rocket in his left foot, he showed everybody that last night.

“Luke Williams is a young guy who was in the team when I first arrived 18 months ago and through injury and lack of confidence he has drifted a little bit.

“But he scored quite a few goals in pre-season and it was a special night for him.”

Among a host of home debutants was Chelsea starlet Josh McEachran, who joined on loan on Monday.

“He’s a boy who’s made a football decision to come and play in the Championship yet you could see the softness of his feet tonight,” Mowbray added.

“He controls the ball like it’s soaking into his body. He’s got such precision with his passing.

“I think he made the decision to come because we look like a team who play with the ball.

“Hopefully he can help our football club and we can help him develop.”

Counterpart Eddie Howe was not as eager to dwell on the strikes that undid the Clarets’ good work.

“I don’t quite know what to say (about the goals). Especially that second one, from that angle. What fantastic strikes,” he said.

“(Goalkeeper) Lee Grant has not really had a lot to do last night. They were three strikes from well outside the area and I don’t think he could have done anything with any of them. That’s how it goes.”

With defeat at Barnsley marking an inauspicious start to the campaign, there was a heightened sense of expectation back at the Riverside, where last season’s poor displays put paid to any hopes of promotion.

There was no such anxiety for a buoyant Burnley side, though, with Howe’s men fresh from a convincing opening-day victory over Lancashire rivals Bolton.

McEachran, who had come in for Julio Arca, soon showed why a host of Premier League clubs were interested in his services as he dusted a series of passes through a packed midfield before Boro had their first solid chance on goal.

In the 25th minute Chris McCann conceded a free-kick for a foul on Reach, Ledesma obliging to whip the ball just beyond the near post.

The hosts continued to grow in confidence and might have scored if Justin Hoyte had connected a toe to Ledesma’s canny through-ball.

Reach then dragged a shot just wide of the target before Burnley took the lead in the 41st minute.

Pressing forward, Dean Marney fed Kieran Trippier who crossed cleanly from the right for Austin to steal in and head home.

The boisterous celebrations of the away fans were muted one minute later.

After Main competed for a heavy ball forward with Clarets skipper Jason Shackell, Bailey looked up just once before rifling the rebound into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

After the break Boro continued to pass the ball about incisively, and Main almost emulated Bailey as he drove a fierce shot against Lee Grant’s outstretched glove in the 68th minute.

Reach very nearly headed the second in the 75th minute, Grant standing tall to deny the young winger. Soon Leadbitter picked his spot but pinged the ball wide as Boro pressed on.

And they were rewarded when Reach picked up a loose ball to scoop a wonderful drive across Grant and into the back of the net.

But when Stanislas scuffed a header beyond Jason Steele it seemingly stifled the Riverside celebrations.

However, it was Williams, a tactical substitute for the tiring Main, who had the final word with an unstoppable drive into Grant’s top corner.