Middlesbrough suffered another defeat to a promotion rival, as they lost 1-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium. Sean Morrison’s 33rd minute header proved decisive, as Boro now sit five points outside of the top-six.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock thought that his side nullified the threat that Middlesbrough posed, and that they deserved to win the game.
“As good as it gets really”, he said. “They’ve got some good players in their team. We restricted them to very few [chances], I think one shot in the whole game.
“We had to defend the long throws, like we knew we would, but I thought we did that ever so well.
“We could have scored more goals but we never do anything simply. We had some good chances and, when you can’t take your chances, you’ve got to defend well and make sure when the other team throw the ball in the box that you can defend.”
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis told BBC Radio Tees that he thought his team struggled with Cardiff in the opening exchanges.
“I thought in the first half we found it difficult to cope with Cardiff. They’re very good at what they do, they have an identity and they play to that identity.
“Whether you like it or not, they do it very well.”
Middlesbrough have been very good at attacking and defending set-pieces, much to do with Pulis’ approach and tactics. But Cardiff’s goal, what proved to be the match-winner, was from a free-kick on the edge of the box.
“Set plays were always going to be important” said the Middlesbrough boss. “Looking back at it, we think it was a free-kick [for the goal]. Morrison was all over Gibson but we didn’t get that decision and that was the decisive moment.”
Middlesbrough remain just outside the play-offs, five points away from sixth. They face Hull City on Tuesday night in what is looking like a must-win game. Cardiff made ground in the Championship table, as they pushed up to second place. The Bluebirds travel to Ipswich Town on Wednesday evening.