Middlesbrough 0 Birmingham City 0: Karanka defends Nugent’s red mist

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Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka defended David Nugent’s late red card as Birmingham earned a deserved point in a 0-0 draw at the Riverside Stadium.

Nugent saw red in injury-time when he tried to wrestle a dead ball from City midfielder Stephen Gleeson.

It compounded a frustrating afternoon for Boro who could have gone top of the SkyBet Championship after Brighton’s draw at Derby.

“I’m disappointed because it’ difficult playing at home always trying to win games, against sides that are wasting time,” said Karanka.

“So you can understand his (Nugent’s) frustration, but you have to learn not to do that.

“He knows he’s made a mistake but it’s up to the other players on Tuesday to make up for this.”

Boro started brightly and missed a number of chances in the first-half, with Grant Leadbitter hitting the post.

“It was frustrating because we couldn’t get that first goal,” added Karanka.

“We should have scored four goals in the first half. We created chances but didn’t take them.

“The conditions with the wind and the rain didn’t help but we still created a lot of chances.

“Birmingham created chances too, but I sent the team out with the message not to make any mistakes because the conditions weren’t easy.

“We had to concentrate even more because of that because one mistake would have decided the game.”

Birmingham were good value for at least a point as they missed late chances at the other end.

City boss Gary Rowett said: “Overall on the balance of play, we knew Boro would have more possession, with the way we play most teams will do that, but we limited them and our chances were the better ones.

“The conditions made the game difficult, but that’s as good an away performance as we’ve had all we’ve had all season and that’s saying a lot with the way we’ve played away this season.

“We lacked a bit of belief early on and it took us 15 minutes to get up to speed but after that we started showing belief and started asking them a few questions.

“We controlled the wide areas better and the longer the game went on and out energy and pace made us a threat.

“We were back to what we’re good at today, we were strong defensively, much better than for the past few games and with better finishing I’m sure we would have won.

“We got to sixth and we’re looking how we can get better - but we’re probably at the ceiling of what we can a chive and should be proud of that.

“Our challenge is to make sure getting into the top six isn’t our only achievement.

“Some of the lads have faltered since we’ve been there and we’re up against teams with three or four times our spending power.”