BUTLAND ADDS TO BORO WOES
SHAY Given signed off at the Riverside Stadium with another cleansheet but his opposite number Jack Butland ensured Middlesbrough’s goalscoring woes continued.
Butland’s fine debut performance between the posts following his loan move from Stoke City on Thursday helped secure Leeds United a point which was not really good enough for either side’s fading play-off ambitions.
But Leeds would not even have returned to Yorkshire with a point had it not been for the 20-yearold’s shot stopping which ensured Boro set an unwanted club record along the way.
It is now more than ten hours since Middlesbrough last scored a goal, the longest barren spell in front of goal in the Teesside outfit’s history.
Yet head coach Aitor Karanka was not blaming his players after watching his team create a number of good chances only to be thwarted by either Butland or poor finishing.
Karanka said: “It’s another point and another cleansheet – but another game without a goal.
“We played well and showed a very good attitude on the pitch, we tried to win the game and that gives me confidence for the future.
“If we continue to play like that then the goals will arrive for us. The man of the match for the other side at the moment always seems to be their keeper. We need to keep our confidence up.
“Obviously we’re struggling to score goals but confidence isn’t an issue.”
Middlesbrough even fielded three strikers – Kei Kamara, Curtis Main and Danny Graham – in the hope of ending the drought, despite Karanka’s decision to leave out winger Mustapha Carayol for poor attitude to training and matches.
Yet it took them until three minutes before half-time to first test Butland. The England youngster made a fine one-handed save to deny Jacob Butterfield from distance.
After the restart there were further chances, with Graham and Albert Adomah going the closest for Middlesbrough and denied by Butland on a couple of occasions.
Leeds boss Brian McDermott, keen to focus on football rather than the ongoing talk surrounding Massimo Cellino’s takeover, was delighted with Butland’s contribution.
McDermott said: “He made a couple of really good saves, he came for crosses, he kicked it well we put him under a little bit of pressure with our back passes which he dealt with very very well – he’s 20 years of age and he’s played 86 games already so he’s very mature, he’s hungry and he wants to be on that plane to Brazil with England.
“You don’t want to lose a game like this especially late on – they had a chance and might’ve scored we had a blatant penalty turned down in the first-half when Noel Hunt was pulled back and I thought we had another one from a handball. The lads were going mad at half-time it was a nailed on penalty.
“We were resilient. Jack’s come in and kept a cleansheet and made a couple of really good saves.We lost a couple of players from our back four so we’ve got to be pleased with a point.”
Leeds also had a couple of half chances, but found Given in no mood to concede either. The Irishman now returns to Aston Villa after his three-month loan and he secured his tenth cleansheet from 14 matches.
Karanka added: “Shay deserves all the best. It's been amazing to work with him. He’s a great person and a great professional - a true example.
“I’d like to thank him for his time here and my English isn’t good enough to express my admiration for him.”
STAR TURN: Leeds’ Jack Butland saves from Albert Adomah while Lee Peltier looks on
BLOCK: Kenneth Omeruo gets his body in the way