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Mowbray expecting to see more late drama
TONY MOWBRAY is predicting more stoppage-time drama as the Championship season reaches a climax in the next ten matches.
Four of Tuesday’s 12 Championship games featured a goal scored from the 90th minute onwards, with all bar one altering the outcome of the match in question.
Middlesbrough were involved in one of those games, with Danny Ward’s stoppagetime drive enabling Huddersfield to claim three points despite trailing at the 86th-minute mark.
Boro have conceded a glut of late goals in the last two seasons, although on the other side of the coin, both of the Teessiders’ strikes in December’s 2-0 win over Wolves came in the last two minutes.
The Championship serves up a high percentage of late goals, and Mowbray does not expect that to change in the remainder of the season.
“The Championship isn’t the Premier League, where ball retention can often see the last five minutes of a game out,” said the Boro boss. “In the Championship, possession changes from one team to the other much more than it ever does in the Premier League.
“It’s much easier for teams to gamble when they’re one goal down. If you know the ball is going to switch sides pretty quickly, you might as well throw men forward and have a go.
“Unfortunately, we know only too well there were a lot of late goals on Tuesday, but that’s not unusual for this league.”
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s defeat, Mowbray questioned his side’s defending for both of Huddersfield’s goals.
The first came after Boro’s defenders failed to clear a corner, a failing that has reared its head on a number of occasions recently, while the second was partly a result of the visitors’ inability to close Ward down as he shaped to shoot.
Two days after the event, and the former centre-half remains disappointed with the dramatic denouement at the John Smith’s Stadium, yet there is also a degree of acceptance that Championship teams are more prone to late errors than sides in the topflight.
There is often a reason why Championship defenders are not plying their trade at the highest level, although a lack of experience can also be a telling factor in the second tier.
“It’s the change in possession and the nature of the game,” said Mowbray. “Premier League teams can spread out and keep the ball, and they take it into parts of the pitch where you can’t get pressure on to get it back. The individuals can stay on the ball better, draw fouls and slow the game down. A lot of the time, that’s experience.
“The Championship is becoming a younger league, not necessarily in terms of age, but certainly in terms of experience.
We have quite a few players who have not played many matches at this level.
“The Premier League is full of highly-paid, expensive, experienced footballers who know how to use their body and stay on the ball. The game is hugely different at that level. Maybe that gives an inkling as to why there are so many late goals in this league.”
Boro will hope to avoid the concession of another late strike when they travel to Bristol City tomorrow. Sean O’- Driscoll’s side are bottom, but have claimed 13 points from their last five home matches.
Mowbray is likely to name a similar side to the one that slipped up on Tuesday, with neither Justin Hoyte nor Lukas Jutkiewicz travelling south despite returning to training yesterday.
“I’ve been trying to analyse reasons for why our results have fallen away a bit, and I think because of the injury situation we had around Christmas, we’ve probably fallen into the trap of bringing in players who are coming in low on fitness or confidence,”
“With Justin and Lukas, rather than throwing them in after one day’s training and having the potential of them performing below par or getting injured again, we’re better off giving them a week’s training instead.”
Adam Reach will not be travelling to Ashton Gate either, and like team-mate Luke Williams, the midfielder is expected to leave on loan next week.
Huddersfield, Scunthorpe and Rotherham have all inquired about the duo, who have slipped down the Riverside pecking order.
“The phone has been very busy for Adam,” said Mowbray.
“He’s probably battling with (Sammy) Ameobi and (Emmanuel) Ledesma, and there will be those who think Reach should be top of that little list.
“I am not going to force him out on loan – it’s up to him.
There’s the chance for him to leave – four or five clubs have asked about taking him, a couple of which are in our division – and I can understand why clubs want him.”
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