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Boro boss bemoans Derby’s late strike
A CLEARLY frustrated Tony Mowbray last night emerged from the referee's dressing room at the Riverside Stadium claiming Middlesbrough had been robbed of a fourth victory in five home games this season.
After a pretty unexciting 80 minutes against Derby County, the contest burst in to life in the closing stages when Boro looked like they had secured all three points eight minutes from time.
Lukas Jutkiewicz, who had cancelled out Theo Robinson's 15th minute penalty in the first half, rose to head in a terrific header in the closing stages to put Middlesbrough ahead.
Despite a frustrating night's football for both teams, Jutkiewcz's fourth goal of the season looked to have lifted Mowbray's men up to within a point of the top six.
But then Derby's late flurry secured a draw for the Rams. Even though Mowbray felt Craig Bryson was in an offside position when he tried to control Conor Sammon's run and cross, which ended with Paul Coutts forcing over the leveller.
That arrived with just three minutes remaining and Mowbray went in to see referee Michael Naylor after the final whistle.
Mowbray said: "The lads are very disappointed, but we have to stick together and lift them and they are more than capable of winning away games so we go again on Saturday at Watford in another tough game.
"The league is hard, we can see that and supporters can see how tough the games are. We are playing honest hard-working teams so every game is tough and we have to take our chances when they come but it is going to be a long season as it is for every team with on one running away.
"Derby showed they are a decent team, tidy footballers, who counter attack very well and they are dangerous as their results suggest. They can give anyone a tough game and it turned out to be but when you go in front late on you expect to win it.
"The frustration is, it was an offside goal in my mind but we can't change it at 2-2, it is frustrating but on the balance Derby probably deserved something from the game. If the officials had done their job properly it would not have been a goal. That's a fact, not my opinion, a fact. Referees are only human but it cost us."
Jutkiewcz's second double for the club, both arriving since his return from a knee injury last month, has heartened Mowbray during a difficult time with injuries.
The Middlesbrough manager has forwards Ishmael Miller, Curtis Main, Marvin Emnes and Mustapha Carayol sidelined and Merouane Zemmama had to hobble off with a hamstring problem last night just 16 minutes after his introduction.
Mowbray said: "It seems it's the way it is going with injuries. We have both centre halves (Jonathan Woodgate and Rhys Williams) unavailable and we have so many attacking and creative players injured. I think that showed but that's the reality in our squad at the moment.
"One point from two home games in a week is disappointing. That's the nature of the league. I said we have to be strong at home and find a way to win football matches at home, but we won three here and came out on top by the odd goal and last the two have been very tight.
"All five have been extremely tight games, it is not the worst home record in the world and it is positive but we have won on the road so we'll see what Saturday brings.
"We are more than capable of going to Watford and winning - as we showed at Blackburn."