A new season sees hope spring eternal for most in football not named Jose Mourinho.
After a spell in the Premier League for the 2016/17 season, Middlesbrough made it to the Championship play-offs, losing out to Aston Villa in the semi-final.
Tony Pulis’ side are well within their rights to be optimistic for promotion this season, and spent over £7m on Bristol City defender Aden Flint.
It was Flint however who almost helped cost the Boro their first game of the season in the Championship opener.
Aiden O’Brien got the scoring underway for hosts Millwall in the early going, but it was Lee Gregory’s strike to make it 2-0 that will cause concern for the usually defensively sound Pulis.
Flint had yards of space to compose himself when the ball came out of the air in midfield, but a panicked header back towards goal set up Millwall’s Gregory perfectly. The often solid Irish number one Darren Randolph also came unstuck.
Perhaps anticipating a chip with the ball bouncing, the Wicklow man jumped as Gregory knocked it beneath him, leaving a simple tap-in as the keeper scrambled back in vain.
ATROCIOUS!!! Lee Gregory scores the easiest goal of his career. Downing with a weak pass back. Randolph miskicks it and Lee Gregory puts Millwall 2-0 up. BORO SORT IT OUT!!! #borolive
— Boro Fan TV (@BoroFanTV) August 4, 2018
That’s one of the worst goals I’ve ever seen us concede that. The whole thing is mental.
— Webjoose (@EojSewob) August 4, 2018
I’d be embarrassed if we conceded this on a Sunday. Gregory doesn’t even disguise his run, he’s in Flint’s eye-line just no need, and then still if Randolph is sharp and commits he still stops it. Maybe one more Austrian hill run would’ve fixed it ??♂️#boro https://t.co/zFkWlPZoVp
— Garth (@ParthGurver) August 4, 2018
A late rally from the away side would see them salvage a point.
Martin Braithwaite scored just before the end of the 90 minute period, before George Friend grabbed a last gasp leveller in the 97th minute.