Boss rues early Boro goalNORWICH City’s slow start was their downfall as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on Friday night, says boss Alex Neil.
Alex Tettey’s own goal gave the rampant visitors a deserved lead as the Canaries struggled to keep pace in the opening part of the promotion head-to-head at Carrow Road.
They reacted by being the better side for majority of the contest, but Boro dug in to claim three points that elevated them above Neil’s side in the Sky Bet Championship table.
“I thought the first 15 minutes cost us the match. If you break the game down, we had a few opportunities but ultimately we didn’t do enough,” he said.
“The way the game panned out suited Middlesbrough’s style of play. Once they got their noses in front, they sat behind the ball and made it extremely difficult.
“Once they scored, we got a bit of wake-up call and from there, we were the dominant team.
“We had a couple of opportunities in the game, we’d like to have created more, but that first 15 minutes was the reason we didn’t pick any result tonight.”
Neil admitted that the playoffs are now his team’s most likely route back to the Premier League, even though they still have a mathematical chance of making the top two.
He says the Boro defeat hit him hard, adding: “It’s painful now, because you never want to lose any game, particularly one of the magnitude of that.
“Automatic promotion was a real possibility until tonight, but now it looks likely that we’ll be in the playoffs, even though you never know what’s going to happen in football
“Our task is to win the next two games, hope that other teams will do what they’re going to do, and if we end up in the playoffs, we need to make sure that the feeling we’ve got tonight, we don’t have that again.
“We’ve been on an incredible run where we’ve won a lot of matches, but we’ve got to dust ourselves down and refocus – we’ve still got a lot to play for.”
Under-21s vs Everton, Monday April 20, 7pm
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