Spain trip ‘paid off’

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - SPORT -

BORO’S sun­shine break can help the team deal with the heat as the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle comes to the boil says Adam Clay­ton.

Ai­tor Karanka took his squad to Benidorm in Spain last week for a wel­come warm weather bond­ing ses­sion and train­ing camp that has helped strengthen team spirit, says mid­field an­chor man Clay­ton.

And that col­lec­tive grit was ev­i­dent as bat­tling Boro more than matched in-form Ever­ton in a 0-0 River­side draw on Satur­day.

Boro shack­led the high­scor­ing Goodison out­fit and cre­ated a string of good chances in an im­pres­sive dis­play all over the pitch.

“It has shown what the week has done,” said in­dus­tri­ous Clay­ton.

“The spirit was back - even if it hadn’t gone any­where in the first place re­ally - but it was upped.

“The crowd were with us, the at­mos­phere was great, the whole club was slightly more to­gether and we gave Ever­ton a re­ally good game.”

The four-day break got the team out of their nor­mal rou- tine and helped bed Boro’s new sign­ings into the group dy­nam­ics.

“In gen­eral we have a re­ally good team spirit but be­ing around each other 24/7 like that I think helps to bring the ones on the out­skirts, in terms of the ban­ter, like Adama, right into group,” said Clay­ton.

“You get to know them that bit bet­ter.

“We have done that ev­ery year and it has helped us over the line so hope­fully we can do it again.”

It seemed to work as Boro played as a well-drilled unit and had the best of a tough game against one of the Pre­mier League’s form sides.

“We did well,” said the mid­field man. “We at­tacked a bit more and we should maybe have won.

“I think Ben (Gib­son) had one cleared off the line, Cristhian (Stu­ani) had one into the keeper’s hands, then there was the Rudy (Gest­ede) chance. So we al­most nicked it.

“We have cre­ated chances and that is key. I think we were un­for­tu­nate not to score.

“Ever­ton have to be just slightly off it and you right on it to beat a team like them. Yes, they have had a cou­ple of chances too but we had the bet­ter ones in the game so maybe we were un­lucky not to win.”

Clay­ton added that Boro’s hard work blunted Ever­ton’s at­tack and forced them to change their sys­tem to stay in the game.

“I think Lukaku scored four last week and Gibbo was top class again against him to­day,” he said.

“As a team ev­ery­one knows what we can do as a de­fen­sive unit but we posed a threat as well.

The fact they put Gareth Barry on at the end to try to shore things up showed what we did.

“We were in the as­cen­dancy,” he in­sisted.

“It would have been nice to get the vic­tory but this league has top play­ers and top teams in it and ev­ery game is very dif­fi­cult.

“For us it was never re­ally 3-0 or 4-0 in the Cham­pi­onship so it was never go­ing to be like that in the Pre­mier League but hope­fully if we can keep go­ing as we are then maybe we will be on the right end of one.”

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