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No excuses for Mowbray as Boro are all at sea
8:00am Wednesday 19th September 2012 in Sport
TONY MOWBRAY delivered an honest assessment of Middlesbrough's 4-1 demise at Blackpool last night before calling for his players to stay united and focus on bouncing back on Friday.
After returning in the middle of the night from the trip to Bloomfield Road, Mowbray must try to pick up his players quickly ahead of the trip to much-fancied Blackburn Rovers the day after tomorrow.
There is no danger of the Middlesbrough boss reading too much in to last night's disappointments at a sodden Blackpool, although he is well aware that improvements must be made to avoid repeats of such a scoreline.
Andre Bikey's first goal for Middlesbrough on the stroke of half-time was not enough to spark a revival from Nathan Delfouneso first half double and Blackpool finished the win with goals from Thomas Ince and Elliot Grandin.
The Middlesbrough dressing room was a quiet place in the immediate aftermath of the defeat and it is unlikely to have improved on the way home on the team coach.
But Mowbray said: "We are all in this together, they need to all sit there and feel that defeat, feel that performance.
"There is a 'no excuse' culture in this squad. We all know that to get where we want then there is damn hard work required. Together we must move on.
"We have another opportunity on Friday against another very good team who sit above Blackpool in the Championship. We will have to go there and see if we can react."
Blackburn preserved their place at the top of the Championship by a point to Blackpool with a 2-1 win over Barnsley at Ewood Park to highlight the size of the task facing Boro when they return to Lancashire,
But last night Mowbray was still reflecting on the frustrations of seeing Blackpool torment his Middlesbrough team to bits almost every time they moved forward.
Delfouneso, Thomas Ince and Gary Taylor-Fletcher all gave Boro's defence something to worry about on a night when Mowbray's decision to try to counter-attack backfired.
"Blackpool were a very good team who looked very sharp, they hit Ipswich for six in the last game which shows you what they are capable of here," said Mowbray, whose side have now lost all three away games in the league.
"Blackpool put us on the back foot by taking the game to us, we didn't play very well, but we gave ourselves a chance going in to half-time with Bikey's goal.
"They have a decent team, Ince lived up to his billing, they have threats all over the pitch. They have good movement, good players and they work really hard.
"But let's not kid anyone on. We got beaten tonight by a thoroughly decent team."
He added: "I am comfortable the preparation was correct for the game and we got the message across that there was going to be threats all over the pitch. There was no complacency.
"It was a concern that we couldn't test them with our system but we didn't really ask too many questions of them. We set up to be defensively strong and build on that, but they kept the ball extremely well."
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway still thinks Middlesbrough will be in the mix for promotion, but admits that defender George Friend was given a torrid time by Ince.
Holloway said: "Poor old George Friend, after we take off Thomas Ince we put on Matt Phillips, I felt sorry for him. I didn't see too many players going back to help him.
"Middlesbrough are a good team with good players. How many contenders do you want for promotion? I like Tony and his team play really well, they have a chance, a lot of teams do."
Mowbray left out teenagers Adam Reach and Luke Williams from his match-day squad despite positive displays in the 2-0 weekend win over Ipswich.
And the Middlesbrough boss hinted both could come back in to his thinking at Ewood Park.
He said: "I am trying to utilise the squad and they can't play week in and week out. They are only young lads and for them to concentrate for two games in three days, and keep their focus, is difficult for young players. They will be fresh for Friday now."