Birmingham C 3 Middlesbrough 0: Promotion is still the target for Mowbray despite defeats

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray had some harsh words for his players after seeing them go down 3-0 at promotion- rivals Birmingham.

The Boro boss was far from happy with the performance of his side as their inconsistency continued post-Christmas.

He admitted: “We fell short of our usual standard and gifted them the first two goals from two simple balls into the box. We simply didn’t defend well enough on the day.

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“Goals change games and change beliefs. That is what happened against Birmingham. We had one or two good opportunities in front of goal but our finishing was not good enough.

“Obviously we are generally disappointed as usually we are more resilient and better than what we showed against Birmingham.”

He has now backed his players to bounce back from the defeat and get their promotion bid back on track.

“We’ve now had two defeats and after that scenario it is hard to question whether we we are going to stay in our current position,” he said. “But I have every confidence that the team can bounce back and win three, four or five on the bounce over the next few weeks as that is what we have done all season. There is no reason going into the last 10 games it will be any different.

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“It is going to be difficult to finish in the top six but I would like to think we can do it with this group come the end of the season when we have all our players available.

“Going into the mini competition we need to be very strong but we have to pick up enough points in the last 10 games to make that happen.”

In truth, this was a comfortable 3-0 win for Birmingham.

After five matches without a victory, City marked their 50th game of the season with a crucial success thanks to goals from Nikola Zigic, Marlon King and midfielder Keith Fahey.

Birmingham boss Chris Hughton said: “It was the type of game we needed after our recent matches. I thought it was a real team effort as we have had to change quite a few things recently after getting in some loan signings.

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“It was a high-energy performance against Middlesbrough and we need to take this forward for the rest of the season.

“We are now fourth but it is going to be very tight involving a lot of clubs.

“It will be teams who have a good period through to the end of the season who will get where they want to finish.”

Birmingham City: Myhill, Ramage (Ibanez 53), Caldwell, Davies, Murphy, Burke, N’Daw, Fahey, Townsend (Elliott 79), Zigic, King (Huseklepp 75). Unused substitutes: Gomis, Redmond.

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Middlesbrough: Steele, McMahon, Bates, Hines, Hoyte (Main 72), Thomson, Bailey, Bennett, Hammill (Martin 72), Jutkiewicz, Arca (Smallwood 72). Unused substitutes: Emnes, Ogbeche.

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).

Man of the match: Chris Burke.