Southgate keeps his cool after Rovers peg back Boro
Blackburn Rovers 1 Middlesbrough 1
In retrospect Gareth Southgate probably should have counted on a dismal end to his day.
In the morning he learned the striker Mido was unfit, leaving him a man short on the bench, and his side were already carrying the wounds of a heavy defeat by Chelsea. A late piece of larceny to pinch points from his Middlesbrough side was inked on the agenda.
Boro were heading for a successive away win when Benni McCarthy headed Blackburn Rovers' equaliser in stoppage time. Southgate looked to the heavens, counted his misfortunes for the day, and then erupted into a bout of rationality. He did not charge red-faced into the referee's room demanding why Tuncay Sanli's goal had been mistakenly ruled out for offside, nor furiously order his back four out into the wind and rain as punishment.
"These calls are inches," he said of the lineman's flagging of Tuncay in the 23rd minute. "The officials have a tough enough job without me being on their case. The players are down at the moment but I refuse to be down with them because they gave me everything they had today."
Instead, it was the defender David Wheater who voiced Boro's disappointment. "We should have defended the corner right and we should have got the three points." This was not the first time Boro had succumbed to late goals this season but, after the Chelsea mauling, Southgate was relieved his players were at least in a position to feel aggrieved after Afonso Alves had given them hope with an excellently taken 74th minute goal. The trick will be to drive the positives back to the Riverside.
Goals: Alves (74) 0-1; McCarthy (90) 1-1.
Blackburn Rovers (4-1-4-1): Robinson; Simpson, Oojer, Nelsen, Olsson (Treacy, 81); Warnock; Emerton, Grella, Villanueva, Derbyshire (McCarthy, 65); Santa Cruz. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Khizanishvili, Tugay, Andrews, Roberts.
Middlesbrough (4-4-1-1): Turnbull; Wheater, Riggott, Pogatetz, Taylor; Aliadière, Digard, O'Neil, Downing; Tuncay (Emnes, 85); Alves. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Emnes, Shawky, A Johnson, J Johnson, Grounds.
Booked: Blackburn: Derbyshire, Olsson, Grella. Middlesbrough: Wheater.
Referee: M Dean (Cheshire).
Man of the match: O'Neil.