KARANKA ALL CRANKY OVER THE MISSING BORO GOALS
Boro boss fumes despite easy win
FRUSTRATED Boro boss Aitor Karanka admitted his side’s woeful record in front of goal could cost them a place in the Premier League.
With 62 goals from 42 games, no side in the Championship’s top nine has found the back of the net less than the toothless Teessiders.
And while strikes from Lee Tomlin and Patrick Bamford kept the heat on the top two, the latter’s missed penalty and a tally of two goals from 23 attempts against an insipid Rotherham side typified the lack of killer instinct that has blighted their campaign.
The result leaves fourth-placed Boro just two points shy of leaders Bournemouth but with a goal difference six less than Watford, seven less than Norwich, and a massive 16 fewer than the Cherries.
“The main thing is the three points, but it is always the same story here,” said an exasperated Karanka.
“We should have scored the penalty, we should have scored the two or three clear chances we had in the first half.We should have had another two or three in the second half.
“We always have enough chances to finish games winning 3-0, 4-0, 5-0. But we are always suffering at the end because we have not done it.
“Promotion this season is very close. It could be goal difference. It is amazing how many chances we have
had this season and I hope it does not cost us.”
A fitful, frustrating first half was Boro’s season in microcosm. Immaculate at the back, slick and incisive to the edge of the opposition area and then… bang out of ideas.
Time and again the likes of Tomlin, Kike and Albert Adomah found themselves on the edge of the area or bursting into space, only to hesitate too long, skew a pass, or lump a hasty shot skywards.
Rotherham full-backs Jack Hunt and Danny Lafferty were forced to clear off the line, but even those efforts – a rebound from a corner and a miscued shot from Adomah – owed more to luck than judgement.
“It was always a bad pass or a sloppy touch,” said Bamford. “To be camped in their first half for so long and only get two decent chances wasn’t good enough to be honest.”
In truth, though, the Millers had little hope of resisting for the duration. Sat deeper than the Grand Canyon and penned in by the tireless harrying of Adams Clayton and Forshaw, the shot-shy visitors effectively invited Boro to attack at will.
That they did and, within five min- utes of the break, Boro made them pay.The mercurial Tomlin, so often a match-winner, capitalised on an error from Kari Arnason, weaved his way towards the penalty spot and, as the Millers back-four stood mesmerised, dinked his shot into the bottom corner.
Fifteen minutes later he was at it again, skipping and dancing his way to the edge of the six-yard box before squirming a pass to Bamford. The 22-year-old duly swept home to become the first Boro player since Fabrizio Ravanelli to reach 16 goals in a season.
He should have made it 17 from the spot, too, but the young striker can at least cite mitigating circumstances.
Having won an 85th-minute penalty by drawing a foul from Richard Wood, Kike grabbed the ball and insisted on doing the business.
Bamford – Karanka’s designated taker – stood his ground, only to see his tame effort saved after a lengthy altercation that left Karanka stonyfaced on the touchline.
“I apologised to Kike,” said Bamford. “It was my name on the board, but I felt bad for missing it. It’s all sorted now.”
Defeat for Millwall means Rotherham remain seven points clear of danger, but assistant Paul Raynor was setting no targets.
“Some people are saying we need one win, some are saying a point,” he said. “It’s impossible to say. Let’s just get two wins and then we can all relax.
“We’ve had the pressure of trying to win promotion in recent seasons and we coped with that. This is a different kind of pressure, but we can deal with it.”
DANNY BOY: Daniel Ayala attempts an over-head kick for Middlesbrough
PIGGY BACK: Lee Tomlin celebrates scoring Boro’s opener with Patrick Bamford taking a ride