Middlebrough 0 Reading 2: Opportunity missed moans Mowbray as Boro bow to Royals

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray admitted his side lacked the “guile” to break down a well-organised Reading.

Boro, who had kicked off in sixth just one point behind Reading, slipped out of the play-off zone after defeat at the Riverside with the Royals moving into third.

Noel Hunt bundled home from a first-half corner before Ian Harte sealed victory with a sizzling second half free-kick.

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However, the hosts had the bulk of the possession and for long spells pressed and probed to the edge of the visitors area before fizzling out.

Mowbray believed his side were not sufficiently astute and said: “We didn’t quite have the guile to break them down.

“We had a lot of the ball and we played a lot of the game in their half but we need to be cuter and a bit more clever to make the most of our opportunities in and around the box.

“They are well-organised with their two banks of four and we knew what to expect but for all our endeavour we couldn’t get past that.

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“We are disappointed because we knew with the way the table stood we had a great opportunity and it is frustrating that we couldn’t take it.

“And it is disappointing, too, that the goals came from set-plays. There’s not much you can do about Ian Harte’s free-kick because it was fantastic but we didn’t defend well for the corner and we have paid the price.”

Reading have gone 473 minutes without conceding a goal in the Championship but manager Brian McDermott said praise was due to the whole side.

“It is an impressive statistic but it is not just down to the lads at the back, although they have done well. But you defend as a team starting right from the front and the whole team has done that.”

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Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Hines, Bates, Bennett, Robson, Rhys Williams, Arca, Haroun (Main 59), Jutkiewicz, Emnes (Ogbeche 82). Unused substitutes: Martin, McMahon, Smallwood.

Reading: Federici, Connolly, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Karacan, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Roberts, Hunt. Unused substitutes: Andersen, Tabb, Le Fondre, Church, Robson-Kanu.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Man of the match: Ian Harte.