The gaffer reflects on the narrow loss to Portsmouth...
Unlike many recent games in which Boro came away empty-handed, the gaffer took away plenty of positives from the match.
“I said to the boys inside just now, I might regret saying it, but it wasn’t far off our best performance of the season.
“I think we did a lot right. We looked far more professional, far more organised. It’s a difficult place to come, forget about what form they’re in or what players they have available, they’ve got a lot of experienced, quality players and it’s a very difficult environment to come to.
“The officials find it difficult to stay in charge of the game, the crowd are always going to make some of the decisions and I thought under the circumstances we put in a really good shift. We played intelligently, played with some really good quality at times, scored two terrific goals and another set-piece.
“I think the boys can feel unfortunate tonight.”
Twice after scoring, the team were unable to stem the Portsmouth tide and there was a feeling of inevitability about Portsmouth striking back. The gaffer admits that the team need to improve their play after scoring and he’s hoping lessons will be learnt.
“If there’s something we have to say about ourselves, we haven’t reacted well to scoring in recent games. The mentality that I’ve always instilled is one of ‘go and get that second goal’, and we’ve tended to almost down tools and reduce our work-rate and try and settle for what we’ve got. That’s no way to play football because that only invites pressure and oppositions onto you and it’s a recipe for potential disaster, as we’ve found.
“I really wouldn’t be surprised to see the boys build on this evening and put in a really strong show at the weekend. It was a much, much better display. I don’t think we’ve been ready to come to a place like this and do the sort of job we’ve done tonight but they’ve stepped up a level, stepped up a gear and it’s good to see a team grow like that. It’s now about taking on that improvement and starting to build performances that create the results that we all want.
“There’s no question, I know when I’m watching a side that is getting better and getting to the sort of level we all want and I felt tonight was a big step in the right direction.”
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