MANAGER Tony Pulis admits Middlesbrough’s home form is becoming a source of major concern and has challenged his players to deal with the pressure of playing at the Riverside.
Jordan Hugill’s 90th-minute penalty cancelled out a first-half strike from Jed Wallace to secure a draw with Millwall, but the result means Boro find themselves six points adrift of the automatic promotion positions.
They have now won just two of their last 10 home games in the Championship and home supporters were quick to voice their discontent as Boro toiled for long periods of their latest home outing. Pulis accepts there is a lack of confidence when his players play in front of their own fans.
He said: “The players have to be strong enough and resilient enough to understand that the supporters come to watch a positive performance. They want to watch teams running around and being positive, whether they’ve got the ball or they haven’t.
“The amazing thing with this group is that in the last two games away from home – at Birmingham and Derby, which are two very difficult clubs to go to – we’ve played exceptionally well, been the better team in both games and played with a lot of vigour and positive energy. We’ve taken four points from those games and should have taken six.
“Irrespective of what is or isn’t going on, if you go out in the frame of mind that you’re a little bit concerned that it’s not going to go well early on, and you can’t then push on, then you’re going to struggle all the time.”
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Fry, Ayala, Batth, Friend, Clayton (van La Parra 46), Besic (Downing 69), Howson (Assombalonga 61), Wing, Saville, Hugill. Unused substitutes: Konstantopoulos, McNair, Fletcher, Flint.
Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Murray Wallace, Jed Wallace (O’Brien 88), Williams, Leonard, Marshall (Ferguson 73), Thompson,Gregory (Morison 81). Unused substitutes: Pearce, Martin, Tunnicliffe, Onyedinma.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).