KARANKA ALL CRANKY OVER THE MISS­ING BORO GOALS

Boro boss fumes de­spite easy win

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

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

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

PIGGY BACK: Lee Tom­lin cel­e­brates scor­ing Boro’s opener with Pa­trick Bamford tak­ing a ride

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