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Middlesbrough boss picks the three games which halted play-off hopes

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has had his say on the club’s campaign, picking three moments which prevented them from achieving their goal of reaching the Championship play-offs.

Middlesbrough were in and around the top six for the majority of the campaign but with the end of the season in sight, a number of factors ultimately halted their progress.

Injuries to key players and resultant poor performances meant they slipped down the table, eventually finishing in 10th position.

Speaking to Teesside Live, the Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock highlighted three games in particular which cost them their place in the play-offs. He singled out defeats to Blackburn Rovers, Rotherham United and Swansea City as the most detrimental.

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“When I look I think the week we lost to Blackburn and Rotherham cost us most.

“That Blackburn debacle… I can still see Dael Fry’s head being kicked off and no action taken. That was manslaughter that!”

Warnock is referring to Blackburn’s Jarrad Branthwaite’s high boot which caught the eye of Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry. The Boro centre-back had to come off due to the excessive bleeding from the eye socket and was unable to continue. The Rovers man went unpunished and the Teessiders lost the game 1-0.

“We went into the Rotherham game after and that was disastrous and I knew then we wouldn’t get into the play-offs because of the circumstances.”

The Millers were fighting for their lives down at the bottom and picked up a vital win away at Middlesbrough. They triumphed over Warnock’s side 3-0 back in January.

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“Then you think of Swansea and Dijksteel out for the season because of an off-ball challenge and decisions that cost me seven grand. I find that difficult to accept.”

The refereeing performance of Gavin Ward was ultimately the talking point in Middlesbrough’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea City. The challenge on Dijksteel wasn’t spotted and went unpunished, Marc Bola had a perfectly good goal ruled out for a ‘foul’ in the build-up and Swansea were given a debatable penalty in stoppage time to take all three points. Warnock was left reeling and his post-match comments saw him fined.

Boro will be hoping to go one better next season and get into the top six. A summer of rebuilding is afoot and Warnock will be looking to extend his record breaking promotions record with a ninth.

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