KARANKA CAN SEE THE LIGHT AT LAST
No goals but boss is relaxed
THE scoreline is becoming all too familiar for Middlesbrough but despite yet another scoreless draw, this time against Blackburn, boss Aitor Karanka still found plenty of cause for optimism.
Boro have now recorded three consecutive goalless draws and scored just three times in their last seven games, despite creating 14 shots and forcing 16 corners in this one-sided affair.
Not even the return of Sunderland loanee Danny Graham, playing his first Middlesbrough home game since leaving in 2006, could end their scoring drought.
But Karanka hopes the level of the performance, and hard work on the training ground, will provide a shot in the arm for Boro.
He said: “It was frustrating for me, because against Doncaster we didn’t play well and against Wigan we didn’t deserve to win the game but here we had a lot of chances.
“But this is football, and I am more confident than I was last week after the Doncaster game because we have had a good week working on the training ground.
“We had a whole week to work together.This is the first week we have had 20 players, and for this it was good for me. It’s important to build up this team day-by-day.
“The clean sheets are very important. The defenders are much better than when I arrived here. Shay (Given) didn’t have any saves to make, and I’m happy not just for the defenders but everybody who worked so hard to recover possession.”
Mustapha Carayol forced a smart early save from ex-England keeper Paul Robinson on four minutes and the tricky winger’s header from the resulting corner was also parried clear.
Grant Leadbitter was then unable to control his 23rd-minute effort which missed the target, before George Friend saw a shot deflected wide four minutes later.
Carayol drew another good save from Robinson on 29 minutes after bringing down Nathaniel Chalobah’s pin-point crossfield pass, appearing momentarily to have wrongfooted the keeper.
Robinson nearly undid his hard work moments later though, fumbling Leadbitter’s cross, but Grant Hanley’s block tackle on Emmanuel Ledesma allowed him to recover. Chances were rare at the other end but Rudy Gestede beat Jozsef Varga to play in strike partner Jordan Rhodes on 31 minutes, with Ben Gibson producing a perfectly-timed tackle to deny the Scotland international.
Carayol continued where he left off after the break, out-sprinting substitute Adam Henley to reach Danny Graham’s long clearance on 55 minutes, but again Robinson saved.
Rovers continued to hold firm despite Boro’s onslaught however, with substitute Albert Adomah forcing a finger-tip save from Robinson with a rising left-footed effort on 75 minutes. And Karanka was left to rue the missed chances, kicking at the floor in his technical area as his team drew another blank in front of goal.
Opposite number Gary Bowyer said: “We were disappointed in how we played, but we did show a lot of character and resilience.
“Paul Robinson was excellent, he just oozed international class. You don’t play for your country without having some outstanding ability and he showed that.
“Whenever you come away and pick up points, they are always points gained. We have been loads better with the ball but here we didn’t get going.
“We had to withstand some pressure from Middlesbrough from some set plays and overall we have to be much happier than them with the point. But we’re talking about Robbo, and when called upon he did well, but there were ten in front of him who helped keep the clean sheet.”
FOOT IN: Blackburn’s Craig Conway in action with Emmanuel Ledesma