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Boro boss frustrated after Bolton draw
MIDDLESBROUGH extended their unbeaten run to four matches but Aitor Karanka was far from happy after seeing his team miss a golden opportunity to close the gap further to the play-off places.
A 90th minute equaliser from David Ngog meant Bolton recovered from being two goals down inside the first 20 minutes at the Reebok Stadium to claim a point.
Had Middlesbrough seen out the remaining minutes of the match then Karanka's side would have been four points from the top six.
Instead, though, the Spanish boss was clearly a frustrated figure on the touchline in Lancashire having witnessed his players fail to build on an impressive start which looked like sealing a fourth straight win.
“We played today thinking we are better than we are, we did not play as a team we played as individuals. That was disappointing,” said Karanka.
“If someone told me beforehand we would get ten points from four games over Christmas then I would be happy.
“After this game I am not happy because since the beginning of the game I was not happy with the team. We got two goals from the sky, from two Bolton mistakes, to go ahead but we didn't play well.”
Despite bringing in five different faces to the team which started Sunday's 1-0 win over Reading at the Riverside, Karanka felt he had the players capable of winning again.
He defended the decision to leave out the likes of Emmanuel Ledesma, who has been in fine form in the last few games, and Marvin Emnes.
Karanka said: “We had five or six new players in the team and I didn't like it. I changed it because I thought about my first game against Bolton, this was a similar team to that and we won.
“I knew it would be difficult here. I tried to pick the best players for this game. The two teams that played Bolton are similar. For that I was very confident in my players.”
After seeing Mustapha Carayol and Curtis Main make the most of two calamitous errors from former England defender Zat Knight inside 20 minutes, Middlesbrough looked certainties to win.
But then Alex Baptiste curled Bolton back in to the game nine minutes later to create the opportunity for Ngog to nick a point with ten seconds remaining when he volleyed beyond Shay Given at the back post.
Karanka is not concerned about the manner of the goals conceded, just the overall performance.
He said: “There was not a set-piece mistake today, we had a lot of balls in to our box and we didn't know how to clear that last one.
“That's why we conceded the goal. When you think you have found the solution after winning three in a row, this happens. But it's football. When we play like a team we can win, when we play like this today we won't.”
Irishman Given was frustrated to have conceded two goals on the day his loan from Aston Villa was officially extended to February 28.
Karanka is delighted to have secured his services and has immediately turned his attention to Saturday's FA Cup third round tie with Steve Bruce's Hull City.
“I spoke to Shay last week and for me, him, the team, it is important we can keep him for two months,” he said. “We have to keep working now on improving, knowing we have got him in goal.
“We have an important FA Cup game with a Premier League team on Saturday. It's my first FA Cup game and I want my team to do well in a game which supporters will be excited about. The FA Cup.”
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