Pressure eases on Teesside
AFTER starting the new season with two defeats, there was some muchneeded relief on the face of Tony Mowbray at The Valley, where Middlesbrough have given themselves a platform to finally get 2013 up and running.
The last eight months have been difficult for Boro. After slipping out of contention for a promotion spot last season and a record of just three league wins this calendar year before yesterday, a trip to Charlton did not seem ideal timing.
But, after the £1m midweek arrival of Albert Adomah from Bristol City, Middlesbrough found a way to grind out a much-needed victory in south east London courtesy of Lukas Jutkiewicz's header 18 minutes from the end to give the whole of Teesside a lift.
Mowbray said:“It's just nice to win an away match, two years ago we broke records of winning a run of away games, yet last season we couldn’t win many at all. But I have believed in my team. We could have won both our first two games against Leicester and Accrington, so we know we have good players.
“We controlled the game for long spells here. We just need to stick the ball in the opposition net a bit more.We were the team that was in control for long spells.
“What has been letting us down is both boxes.You have to do your job in both boxes. The stuff between the two boxes has been very good. But it's about points and we have to build now from here.”
Mowbray will spend the next week trying to bring in at least one new striker – Leeds’ Ross McCormack remains on the radar after a £1m offer was rejected. Middlesbrough's problems in the early part of the season have been put down to a lack of attacking threat. But Charlton, who have now lost their first two Championship fixtures, had plenty to contend with.
On loan Hungarian Jozsef Varga and Grant Leadbitter ran the midfield, even if Charlton boss Chris Powell felt Dean Whitehead should have been red carded inside 20 minutes when his arm appeared to connect with Yann Kermorgant.
“I'm surprised the referee thought it was just a trailing arm,” said Powell. “Sometimes it can be quite blatant, it was a karate kick on him. Sometimes I would like my players to be protected – all players, all 22 – but he made his decision. He gave a yellow, so he seen it, if he wasn't going to produce a card I could understand it. But if he can produce one for an arm in in the face … if that's what he feels it warranted then we have to move on.”
Mowbray thought it was just a “coming together” of the two players, but referee Paul Tierney's decision to leave Whitehead to play on helped Middlesbrough.
Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele – who later had to be replaced with an ankle injury – denied Charlton's Danny Green. Then Jutkiewicz grabbed the fortuitous winner. When Leadbitter's corner was floated in, Ben Hamer in the Charlton goal misjudged it.
Varga headed the cross back in to the area and Jutkiewicz was the only one to get a decent touch and head in to an unguarded net. Powell said: “Sometimes you have to dig in for a well earned point, it was more huff and puff and we didn't get that spark I expected.”
HIGH FLYER: Lukas Jutkiewicz scores the first goal for Middlesbrough
his goal HERO: Jutkiewicz celebrates