Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis was left reeling as his side suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since he took over at the club. What is more concerning, is that both losses came at The Riverside.
Middlesbrough led the game against Preston through Ashley Fletcher’s deflected effort, but the goal was well-deserved. The home side created plenty of chances, including hitting the post twice before they opened the scoring.
Pulis’ side looked comfortable at 1-0 up, but the game switched momentum with the dismissal of centre-back Dani Ayala just after the hour mark for a strong tackle on Brandon Barker. Preston then scored from the resultant free-kick before Jayden Stockley’s winner nine minutes from time.
“The decision, I have watched it now on four different angles” said Pulis. “The referee is a long way away from the challenge and he has players in between him. It looks for me that he can’t see the challenge because two of their players and one of our players is in the way.
“I have said to him that to make a decision like that you have to be 100 per cent sure, you can’t be 50 per cent or 60 per cent, otherwise you are gambling, and I think he gambled, he made a very, very poor choice and it affected the game.”
According to Pulis, it wasn’t only the sending off which meant the result went the way of the visitors however.
“Even before the red card, if you create the opportunities and chances we have, we’ve got to be more than 1-0 up. I have been at the club for 14 months and I haven’t stopped talking about the chances in the final third that we throw away.”