HOOT, HOOT OWLS SWOOP
Hot-shots Boro tumble as Wednesday move up
AITOR Karanka held his hands up and accepted the blame after Middlesbrough missed the opportunity to go top of the Championship with defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
Leaders Derby were beaten at Fulham, while Bournemouth and Brentford both dropped points, but Boro couldn’t capitalise with a penalty from Atdhe Nuhiu and a Will Keane strike earning Stuart Gray’s side their first home win since Boxing Day.
Karanka made five changes to his starting line-up, leaving out captain Grant Leadbitter along with regular starters George Friend and Lee Tomlin – and the Spaniard conceded he had to take the blame.
“I made mistakes and we have lost the game,” he said. “The performance has been very bad for everybody.
“We have lost three points. I came here to win the game but I have learned a lot of things from the last two or three games and I have to think about the future.
“I can’t say what my mistakes were. I have to learn from them and I have to improve in the following games.
“We didn’t lose because of the pressure and I don’t think it is because of the amount of changes because against Blackpool, we made six changes and beat them.
“It was 11 against 11 and they have won all the 50-50 balls and all the fights on the pitch. We have to learn. The players are intelligent and they have to know what happened.”
Middlesbrough had a penalty shout turned down in the third minute when Albert Adomah appeared to go down under a challenge from Claude Dielna, but referee Stephen Martin waved away their protests.
Buoyed by their win at Millwall midweek, Gray’s men looked full of confidence and after the penalty appeal they put the visitors under pressure.
Nuhiu made his presence felt among the Boro back line and he linked up well with Keane, who nodded a header inches over in the 25th minute.
Boro and Wednesday boast two of the best defensive records in the Championship and that was clear with both sides cancelling each
other out in an uneventful first period.
After the break Wednesday picked up where they left off and with 52 minutes gone they were handed an opportunity to take the lead.
Kenneth Omeruo was adjudged to have handled inside the area and Nuhiu made no mistake firing his spot kick beyond Dimi Konstantopoulos.
The Owls doubled their advantage two minutes later when Keane nodded home after Nuhiu’s effort came back off the post.
Boro’s best chance to pull one back came when Patrick Bamford played in Kike, but Liam Palmer made a superb last-ditch challenge to keep the Spaniard out.
New Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri was at Hillsborough to see the club defeat high-flying Boro and manager Gray revealed they will discuss plans next week.
“The new owner was here and I need to sit down with him and discuss where we want to take the club on and off the pitch,” Gray said.“We need strength and depth but the pleasing thing is we brought players on and they did very well, but we’re always looking to improve.
“We’ve been creating chances but it’s either been the woodwork or the goalkeeper or poor finishing that’s kept us out.
“We were playing a very good side and we created a couple of good chances and converted them. It’s nice to send the fans home with three points and two goals.
“If you don’t get in their faces they will make you pay and we closed them down from the very first minute.
“It allowed us to create opportunities and the only time we got caught out was from one or two counter attacks.”
LOVELY GLOVELY: Will Keane, far right, celebrates scoring Sheffield Wednesday’s second goal with his team-mates
MAKE NUHUI MISTAKE: Atdhe Nuhiu scores from the spot to give Sheffield Wednesday the lead
DOUBLE UP: Will Keane and his teammates celebrate Sheffield Wednesday’s second
SURROUNDED: Referee Stephen Martin waves away Boro protests