TETTEY BLUNDER ENERGISES BORO
MIDDLESBROUGH’S continued Premier League hiatus has been a mystery to most at the Riverside, but after delivering the latest plot twist in a tantalising Championship promotion race the equation for Aitor Karanka’s men is simplifying.
Alexander Tettey’s own goal after just eight minutes was all Boro needed to see off a Norwich side that, before kick-off, had looked an unstoppable force in the hunt for a top-two spot.
Beforehand, Norwich were second and Boro fourth, but now Boro are third and the Canaries fourth such is the nature of this term’s unpredictable Championship.
Boro know two wins from their final two fixtures against Fulham and Brighton could yet see them celebrating automatic promotion.
And having delivered one heroic performance, winger Albert Adomah insists his side must produce two more as they pile the pressure on their rivals.
“It means a lot to everyone because obviously the season is far from over – that puts pressure on the other teams to win,” said Adomah.
“At the beginning, the gaffer told us that we have to take it as a cup game because if we were to win who knows what can happen with the potential for other teams to slip up.
“It felt like a cup game, towards the end you could probably see everyone was defending for their lives.
“We took our opportunity.This was a great example of how tight it is. If we had lost, Norwich would have been four points clear of us.
“We know that anyone can slip up and we are doing great so we must keep the momentum and focus on winning our last two games.”
It was Boro who started like a train with Jelle Vossen heading Patrick Bamford’s excellent cross just over John Ruddy’s crossbar.
The visitors carved Norwich open once more moments later but Sebastien Bassong was in the right place to stop Bamford’s low cross reaching an unmarked Vossen.
The resulting corner, however, an in-swinger from Grant Leadbitter, saw Tettey inadvertently head over Ruddy, Adomah just failing to add a touch before it landed in the far corner.
Jonny Howson’s glancing header was Norwich’s only real chance, although Wes Hoolahan’s low drive before the break saw Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos save well.
Lee Tomlin’s 25-yard strike shaved the crossbar during one of Boro’s rare second-half counters and despite throwing on Lewis Grabban, Gary Hooper and Nathan Redmond, the hosts failed to equalise.
A scuffed Grabban effort and a Russell Martin drive were all they could muster, but the latter insists his squad will not give up without a fight.
“We have to pick ourselves up and win our last two matches,” said Martin.
“There is plenty of belief in the dressing room that we will still do it, whether it’s the hard way or not.
“All the focus is on looking ahead, and we’ll see what happens.
“It’s not a foregone conclusion, but we’re really disappointed. We’ve got to dust ourselves off better than anyone else.
“It was a poor start, when we didn’t deal with the way they played well enough. The game was perfect for them; because if they score first, they are hard to break down.
“You’ll see this in the next couple of weeks – we’ll bounce back.
“There’s plenty of character in that dressing room, plenty of fighting spirit and we still have belief that we will do it.
“We have to go on a little run again now.
“The results under the gaffer have been brilliant, and we have to carry that on.”
OOPS: Middlesbrough’s Albert Adomah tries to get a touch to Alexander Tettey’s own goal
BIG MOMENT: Albert Adomah celebrates Boro’s goal