Resilient rearguard are toast of Riverside

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.
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AITOR KARANKA has hailed Middlesbrough’s defensive stinginess – despite not being afforded the luxury of a settled back five.

Boro, who make a rare visit to Bournemouth this afternoon, were only denied a club record eighth successive league clean sheet on home soil by a hugely controversial late leveller from Nottingham Forest’s Darius Henderson in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw.

Boro were adamant that the goal should not have stood for handball, with TV evidence supporting their belief, just two games on from the Teessiders being denied a goal in the 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday after footage showed that a strike from Jacob Butterfield crossed the line.

Another thing that head coach Karanka is categorical and effusive about is his defensive unit’s they-shall-not-pass mantra.

This despite two recent changes in goal with first Tomas Mejias and now Dimi Konstantopoulos handed chances following Shay Given’s return to Aston Villa and a switching of personnel in the back four, with Jonathan Woodgate and Daniel Ayala hit by injuries.

Karanka said: “I’m happy about the record of conceding goals. You can see the work that has gone in to preserving it.

“If you are playing with the same defenders and goalkeepers always, you will say ‘they are playing very well’ – but we are playing with the fifth keeper in four months with different defenders.

“All of the goalkeepers are very good here, and the defenders also.”

Still furious about Henderson’s leveller, Karanka added: “The most important thing was that the player who scored the goal for Nottingham Forest did not talk to the press afterwards.

“Normally, a player who has scored a goal to equalise would speak to the press. For a player not to do that, something has happened.”