IT’S JUST NOT CHAMPION SAYS AITOR
WITH three Champions League medals as a player, Aitor Karanka is used to high standards and the Spaniard admitted he was embarrassed to see his Middlesbrough team fall below-par in a stalemate at Doncaster.
Boro hit Rovers for four in the reverse fixture earlier in the season but on this occasion neither goalkeeper was really threatened as both sides struggled to carve out chances.
The draw leaves Middlesbrough in 12th spot in the table and needing to find a spark if their season is not to fizzle out.
And Karanka, whose side have now failed to score in three straight matches, admitted Boro had let down their large travelling support.
“We didn’t play, we didn’t fight, we didn’t do anything,” he said.
“We had a lot of supporters come down from Middlesbrough to support us, but we didn’t play or fight and for this I find it a little embarrassing.
“Doncaster were better in their attitude. They were fighting, they were winning the second balls. They were always ahead of us.
“In the circumstances I am happy because one point is better than none.
“But I am not happy because I think if we played like we had a month ago we would have won the game.
“We have not played well in the last few matches.We have lost our style.
“In these last few weeks we haven’t played well and when you don’t, it will be difficult to score goals.”
Chances were few and far between but James Coppinger’s glanced header, from Marc Duffy’s left-wing cross, flashed just wide on six minutes.
Only Chris Brown troubled on-loan goalkeeper Shay Given in the first-half though, when he shot straight at him on 23 minutes from Billy Sharp’s lay-off.
An extended halftime period ensued, with fourth official Mark Brown replacing unwell referee Andy Davies for the second-half, but the lengthy break had little effect on the game.
Mustapha Carayol shot wide across goal on 53 minutes after a Nathaniel Chalobah through ball created a rare Middlesbrough chance.
Brown, at full stretch, then missed Rovers’ best chance of the game when he was unable to turn in Sharp’s dangerous low cross from close-range on the hour.
Substitute Kei Kamara almost had an immediate impact for Middlesbrough in the dying minutes of the match but he could only shoot wide after showing some clever footwork to beat two defenders.
In the end Doncaster held on for their third consecutive home cleansheet, with boss Paul Dickov pleased to see his side proving their worth in the Championship after turning round a difficult run of results.
“It’s three cleansheets in the last four games, and that’s what we’ve been striving for,” Dickov said.
“That’s one big positive for us because five or six weeks ago we would probably have lost that.
“I think there are a lot of positives for us going forward. It is now four games unbeaten and three cleansheets.
“As I’ve already said, we believe we can compete at this level. I thought it was a scrappy game. It was difficult for either team to get the ball down and pass it.
“We knew they were a good team so defensively we had to be sound, and I thought we were.
“Over the course of the 90 minutes I thought we were slightly the better team, but a draw is the fair result.”
HANDBAGS: Tempers flare Inset: Jacob Butterfield tries a shot