Middlesbrough 1 Birmingham City 0: We should have won by five or six, claims Pulis

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Tony Pulis was disappointed that his Middlesbrough side did not subject Birmingham to a heavier defeat than 1-0 at the Riverside.

Britt Assombalonga’s 13th-minute goal gave Boro the points, following up Tuesday’s 3-0 win against Sheffield United, and they would have matched that scoreline had they been better in front of goal.

Both Assombalonga and Stewart Downing hit the post, and Jonny Howson had an effort cleared of the line.

“I thought it was a game that we could have won and should have won by five or six goals,” said Pulis.

“The chances and opportunities that we created during were absolutely outstanding. I think we’ve hit the bar twice, we’ve hit the post twice, we’ve had one cleared off the line.

“There’s been a melee a couple of times where it could have easily dropped for us. Jonny’s missed a chance because Stewart’s got in the way, Stewart’s missed a chance because Jonny’s got in the way.

“We’re waiting for the whistle at the end but really and truthfully the game should have been buried.”

The win means Middlesbrough remain unbeaten having drawn 2-2 at Millwall on the opening day, though Pulis remains frustrated not to have added new players to his squad on deadline day.

He added: “We’ve done fantastic to play three games in a week and three very competitive games and to have the energy that we’ve shown today was a huge credit to the players.

“The lads have been fantastic in the three games but, being perfectly honest with you, the squad is not strong enough to maintain this, just ain’t strong enough, you can dress it up anyway you want to dress it up but I’d rather just be straight and honest with people and let them know how I feel.”

Garry Monk, on his Riverside return having managed Middlesbrough for the first half of last season, was left to admit his team were fortunate not to concede more than one goal.

He said: “A lot of endeavour and fight and commitment but it is a league that demands you be on your game from the start and, especially away from home against one of the better teams with the demands on them to get promotion, you have to be on your game and in the first half we were not.

“We caused our own problems. It was 1-0 and they could have maybe scored another to be honest.

“We were much better in the second half, without being at our best, but it is very early days we have new players and we will get better. The fighting spirit is there but we made it too easy for them in the first half.”

Birmingham’s Craig Gardner was sent off in the closing stages for a challenge on Howson, but the Blues may appeal against referee Andrew Madley’s decision.