Middlesbrough’s drive towards the relegation dogfight continued yesterday with a convincing 5-2 defeat away to Reading.
Despite the home side’s midweek exertions in their FA Cup win away to Everton they still had far too much on offer to be troubled by Tony Mowbray’s side.
As ever the former Celtic boss didn’t spare his players feelings when he delivered his aftermatch verdict.
Mowbray said: “Right from early on we were under pressure. In the first five minutes we conceded half a dozen corners and it never got much better.
“Reading have a lot of intensity in their play and their front two work really hard.
“I have been in charge for 19 or 20 games but it’s the first time we have found a performance like that. Even if we have had bad results we have always been in matches.
“This was the first time we have been outfought and outplayed.
“With great respect to Reading, they’re mainly a very hard-working team and most of the goals were as the result of mistakes we made, both individually and collectively.
“If you break down the goals, as we will, most of them were self-inflicted. We’ve been searching for the reasons and that’s an ongoing thing we’ll try to address so there’s no repeat of it.
“It hasn’t happened too often since I’ve been here – even in most of the games we’ve lost we’ve usually stayed competitive.
“We have to move on immediately and although we’ll analyse it tomorrow, we can’t dwell on it.”
Elsewhere in the Championship Norwich remained in fourth place with a 1-1 home draw against relegation threatened Preston.
Wes Hoolihan missed a penalty for the homeside with Paul Lambert furious with the manner that the former Livingson winger took the spot kick.
The Norwich boss said: “When penalties go in they look good however they are taken, and when they don’t go in it is obviously a missed opportunity.
“Basically whilst Wes felt confident to take the penalty the way he did, he certainly wasn’t being disrespectful to their keeper. He didn’t have to hold his hands up and say anything after the game – 26,000 people saw what happened.
“I don’t tell players how they should take penalties but I don’t think he’ll be taking one again like that while I am manager.”
At Watford Malky Mackay was celebrating again after Watford beat Millwall 1-0 at home to move to a point away from the 50 point survival target.
The Watford boss said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the win today in terms of the squad right now and the youngsters we’re having to bring in.
“So to come away with that win, it’s one of the best ones of the season against a very strong, aggressive, resilient Millwall, to go and stand up to them today and take some of the challenges that we did and step on.
“I felt that at half-time it was a very tight game and I told the players to keep sticking to the game plan and stick to the shape and play from the shape and one moment of quality will come in the second half for us and we’ll score a goal. And that’s the way it happened.
“Don Cowie put a beautiful ball down the side, Danny Graham’s movement got him a couple of yards away from the guy and he put a beautiful ball in the net. So one moment of quality was all it needed today.”
In midweek Middlesbrough are at home to Derby, Norwich travel to Leicester and Swansea host Watford.