Helguson leaves Boro Heid and dry.
Today the Rangers' faithful took to the road and embarked on the long 'ol pole to Teesside as the R's took on struggling Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
With Jenson pulling out at the last minute due to working commitments it was I that took over driving duty with Sam, Jess and Luke as my passengers. PK and Lofty were also unable to make the trip due to them being on call for work so the depleted gang took to the road just after 9.30.
We started listening to the finest old skool tunes around for the first two hours of the journey and then Sam requested that some party/singa-a-long songs were put on and the first song to grace our ears was 'I'm so excited' by The Pointer Sisters, a feeling that really wasn't shared in the car as Luke was sleeping and the rest of us still feeling tired from not having much sleep the night before.
After a quick stop in Wetherby services and a burger king munched by us all we again hit the road with only 45minutes of our journey left.
We arrived at 1.40 and parked up right outside the ground and made our way into the ground, bumping into Clingy just outside the turnstiles and went inside for a quick beer and chat before taking our seats ready for the game start.
Neil Warnock made one change to the team that beat Ipswich 2-0 on Tuesday night, Akos Buzsaky in for Ishmael Miller.
The first half started as an edgy affair as Middlesbrough looked to unsettle the R's in their free flowing passing and it looked to be working as they always looked to set Leroy Lita and Scott McDonald free behind Fitz Hall and Danny Shittu, all with very limited success.
The R's did start to slowly take a foothold of the game as Taarabt was looking to be instrumental in his left wing position. It was Taarabt who looked like his was going to do all he could and open the scoring as he had a shot fly wide, one shot gathered up easily by the 'Boro keeper and another one blocked.
The final 10 minutes saw Rangers' look at their most comfortable as they were reading all of Boro's attacks and hitting them on the counter and it was that man Taarabt again that nearly opened the scoring as a long ball evaded everyone and Taarabt got to the ball before the keeper and unfortunately for him the ball nestled on top of the net rather than in it.
A few minutes before the end the deadlock was broken. Helguson managed to take the ball down inside the area and hit his shot, it deflected off the back of a Boro defender and looped into the back of the net. Slightly fortuitous but who cares!
At half time Sam, Luke and Clingy went downstairs to get in refreshments as me and Jess stayed in our seats as I begun writing this report. There were a few half decent half time scores to keep us excited but it was important that we held onto the 3points as Swansea won earlier on in the day.
Rangers' came out for the second half with all guns blazing (and with only me and Jess from the gang present to see the opening 10 minutes of the half).
The R's hit the ground running and in the opening five minutes we had three separate counter attacks foiled at the last minute by the Boro defence.
However the resolve did not last long and soon the lead was doubled.
Routledge skinned his marker on the left hand side and dinked a delightful ball into the 6 yard box and there was Helguson to nod in with aplomb and put the R's in a controlling lead.
After the second goal there definitely was only ever going to be one winner.
The R's remained in control and the opportunity for a third soon came.
Taarabt danced into the left hand side of the box and was tripped, definite penalty!
Taarabt grabbed the ball and soon shook of Helguson as the striker looked to bag his first hat-trick for the R's and despite calls from other Rangers' players to give Heidar the chance of the match ball, pure greed won the day and Adel stepped up to take the kick and sent Steele the wrong way as he smashed his penalty to the left and into the back of the net for Rangers' third goal of the afternoon.
The third goal left the R's in cruise control and a fourth goal would've been possible had we really pushed hard enough for it. Middlesbrough in fairness did fashion a few chances of their own before the end of the game but Rangers' ran out clear and deserved winners.
This was a very professional performance on the road and a very much needed goal feast away from home was finally served up.
Having Akos back in the starting 11 and having his movement and creativity in the team was something that we have missed and gave us that extra impetus in the final third of the field. Faurlin and Derry once again bossed the midfield as Taarabt and Routledge caused plenty of problems with all their trickery.
It would've been superb to see Heidar bag a hat-trick today had Adel given him the chance from the spot but this was Adel's first away goal since the Palace way back in October.
The Man of the Match for today had a few contenders as there were a few good all round performances. As mentioned before Alejandro Faurlin and Shaun Derry were immense in the midfield and Akos Buzsaky was superb on his return. Today's man of the match is a clear winner with everyone's vote going to Heidar Helguson.
After the game two members of the gang were very happy as Sam won £100 on Helguson being first scorer and Rangers' winning 3-0 and Clingy won £52 on a 3-0 R's victory. Myself and Jess were slightly gutted as we had Helguson first and the R's to win 2-0, at least we won the three points!
The journey home was one that we all wanted to get out of the way as quickly as possible so I put my foot to the floor Jenson style and aimed to beat last years time of just over three hours.
We left the car park gates at the Riverside at 5.15 and we walked into our front door at 8.30, I must say I shocked myself and everyone was happy as we all made it home in time for 'Take me out'.
At the end of the journey my car was feeling pretty battered and bruised and we had a loss of power for the last 20 minutes of the journey and with the car screaming weird noises, no explaination can be given yet but hopefully in the morning the poor motor will hopefully of recovered.