Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate slams officials after Nottingham Forest's controversial late leveller

Jonathan Woodgate. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES.Jonathan Woodgate. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES.
Jonathan Woodgate. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES.
FURIOUS Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate slammed referee Darren England and his officials for letting Nottingham Forest's late equaliser stand in a controversial 2-2 draw at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro looked set to move out of the relegation zone and record a precious first league win in ten matches since New Year's Day after quick-fire goals towards the end of the first half from Rudy Gestede and Lewis Wing forged a lead for the hosts, who had trailed to Ryan Yates's strike just before the half-hour mark.

But amid late pressure, Forest - seeking a win to keep the pressure on the top two of West Brom and Leeds United - levelled through Lewis Grabban, with Woodgate adamant his close-range strike should have been ruled out by South Yorkshire based official England for backing in by the Forest striker on keeper Aynsley Pears.

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Woodgate rued: "Nine out of ten times, that goal is not counted. I thought it was a bad decision by the referee.

"But you cannot really say much, can you..

"He backed in from where he was and put his arm across his chest. He (Grabban) didn't get nowhere near it. It is a foul, in my view.' In 19,000 people's eyes as well, it is a foul as well.

"You look this season at how many decisions get given when a forward backs into a goalkeeper? It always (a foul) gets given. It's frustrating."

Despite the cruel finale, Woodgate, handed the backing of chairman Steve Gibson in the build-up to the game, was delighted with his side's character, energy and endeavour on a night when Gestede scored his first home goal in the league in just over two years - in his first Championship start at the Riverside since February 2018.

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Woodgate, whose side face a relegation six-pointer at Charlton on Saturday, added: "We showed character and there was a real determination from every single player to try and get on the ball, even if it is tough. We tried to make things happen.

"We went down 1-0 and it was tough, but the players bounced back and I felt we deserved to win the game.

"Hayden Coulson was again the outstanding player on the pitch for both teams. I said that in the Leeds game as well.

"We are there where we are. It is what the table says at the minute; we are third from bottom and that could be an important point for us.

"The players showed that they are working as hard as they can. At times, we needed a bit more quality at the top of the pitch, but it was a good performance."