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OUR KINK START! Late hero Tarmo fires: up Boro's season.

COMETH the hour....

Just when beleaguered Boro were crying out for a hero to save the day: enter Tarmo Kink, the Estonian Exocet.

The Beckham of the Baltic slammed home a sizzling stoppage-time guided missile that screamed into the top corner and hopefully soared straight into legend too.

What a strike! What a hero! What a moment! What a gift for headline writers! Kinky Boots Burnley Into Touch. Parmo King. Parmo Hotshot - Teesside's Late Night Tasty Treat!

It will enter into Boro folk legend, the famous night a Talinn Torpedo, powered by purest Hicktonite, was first unleashed at the Riverside.

The stage is now set for the new boy to seize the moment and Kink Start the season.

After a turgid start to such a crucial campaign, with just two goals in five soporific games from a laboured, lack-lustre side desperately lacking a creative spark, suddenly we have a hero elect. How we have needed that.

Skipper Gary O'Neil was put on the naughty step after the Queen Park Rangers debacle for pointing out that this one-dimensional Boro side were over-stocked with holding men in a cautious engine room and had no-one who could sprinkle a bit of magic, with width or pace, no-one who could go past people and who could hurt teams.

We have all moaned that the mono-paced team are crying out for a match-winning mercurial presence, an exciting, electrifying force to turn a match in a moment.

Then up steps Kink to do just that - hurt the opposition - with a ballistic double blast in 15 electric minutes of zest, effort and entertainment.

The first was a fantastic low piledriver, a sweet smack from 20 yards that screamed inside the near post with vicious velocity after a fluid move and an excellent square ball from Scott McDonald. He had been on the pitch barely four minutes at that point.

His second couldn't have been scripted any more dramatically by Hollywood, Bollywood or wherever the centre of the Estonian film industry is. Tallywood? Four minutes into stoppage time, a free-kick right at the far reaches of feasibility and with the pressure on and the clock ticking down... and ice cool Tarmo drilled his unstoppable, laser-guided 28 yard Estonian Exocet home to save the day and possibly save the season from a lingering death of empty apathy.

Now, Tarmo Kink is no dream-weaver like Juninho. And the left footed, line-hugger is yet to tear up this division in the way Adam Johnson did.

His early outings have shown he has a tendency to drift in and out of games. So far he has not dictated shape and tempo in games, ripped teams apart or been unplayable. Don't start work on the statue just yet.

But he has shown an eagerness to run at defenders, to cut inside and have a crack. Sometimes he has been a little too ready to unleash his shot.

He was a one man howitzer at Millwall as he bombarded the goal with strikes that flew just high, just wide or straight at the keeper from a variety of distances and angles whenever he got a sight.

At Barnsley too he showed he was willing to go for goal in a livewire performance of perpetual checking inside and peppering the goal from distance if he got a chance.

Let's hope he has got his eye in now and will get a few more of those on target. We need it.

The goals - especially the second - were a huge boost to flagging morale.

The last-gasp winner could be the galvanising moment that kick-starts a stuttering season.

Certainly the devastating deadball delivery eased the mounting political pressure on Gordon Strachan.

Going into the game there was a background of incipient revolt and trepidation.

With discontent rising and crowds plunging, the boss, the team and the crowd knew it was time to deliver. Boro had to win and win well.

They delivered. It won't dramatically change the arguments or swing the numbers irrevocably back on board. And it certainly won't solve the structural flaws in the team.

But it will buy breathing space for the boss and the team to find their feet and deliver more frequently.

"Anger is an energy," Strachan said before the game with a nod to the mantra of his mate John Lydon. There was plenty of energetic anger on show when Burnley scored.

One irate fan threw his coat at Strachan as he stomped away and there were pockets of vocal dissent as some frustrated fans joined in with away fan taunts of "sacked in the morning" and even a ripple from the militant amnesiacs chanting "one Gareth Southgate".

But despite the blow the Bikey goal landed on Strachan - at that point Boro dipped to second bottom of the second tier, their lowest position in the table since the last-day Great Escape against Newcastle back in 1990 - the crowd, those who stayed, like the team, dug deep in the closing stages.

The manager did exactly what the supporters were demanding and made some telling changes to switch to a shape and tempo we see get results every week in this league.

He did to Burnley what they had done to Preston at the weekend when 3-1 down -went for the jugular.

Strachan put Kris Boyd on and pushed him up front to play with three strikers in a league game for the first time, the misfiring Scot joining Leroy Lita and Scott McDonald.

And he put the lively Kink on to add a bit of pace and width, to run at the Burnley defence, stretch them, pick a few holes and have a few shots.

This is a poor division and generally it is populated by limited teams packed with average players and if you put them under pressure they make mistakes. If you attack and get the ball in and around the box, they make mistakes in dangerous areas and you can profit from that.

That is what we have seen time and again as Boro have wilted under sustained pressure. Sooner or later we have cracked. This time it was Burnley who cracked and Boro who forced the late winner. Let us hope the penny has dropped.

Certainly Boro set out to attack. Ironically the key was dropping the man who was brought in to score the goals.

With Kris Boyd benched, Lita was given a chance to show what he could do and he offered more pace and movement up front and linked up well with industrious McDonald, the pair showing some good inter-passing and touches.

Behind them there was movement too with Julio Arca - arguably Boro's best player so far this term - buzzing about, always available and looking to play a neat ball through for the strikers.

It was far from a brilliant display. Boro weathered some heavy pressure and, as well as the goal, Bikey hit the post.

And Boro still looked blunt up front for long spells - O'Neil had the only clear-cut chance before the goals as an angled close-range effort was blocked - but at least they showed intent. And it paid off. They deserve credit for that.

And at least now we have a hero. Someone who can hurt teams. All hail Kink Tarmo.


INSTANT IMPACT: Tarmo Kink runs at Burnley Picture by IAN COOPER TAKE THAT: Above, Boro's new hero Tarmo Kink fires home the winning goal at the Riverside last night SHOWING REAL FIGHT: Leroy Lita battles for the ball, left and, below, Gary O'Neil shoots Pictures by IAN COOPER THE CRUCIAL CHANGE: Gordon Strachan brings on Tarmo Kink to produce a matchwinning display Picture by IAN COOPER KING KINK: Tarmo Kink scores the equaliser, above, and celebrates with Scott McDonald, left
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 15, 2010
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