MIDDLESBROUGH head coach Aitor Karanka admitted his frustration after seeing Nottingham Forest grab a controversial late equaliser at the Riverside last night.
Boro were heading for a second successive home win and on course to equal a club record of clean sheets after Mustapha Carayol had given Karanka’s men a second half lead.
However, Forest battled back after going behind but the goal to send them back to the East Midlands with a vital point in their play-off push incensed the Teessiders.
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Substitutes Andy Reid and Darius Henderson combined with the former Sunderland midfielder crossing into the striker to score, but replays suggest the Forest man bundled the ball past Dimi Konstantopoulos with his hand.
The Boro keeper reacted straight away and chased referee Roger East back to the centre circle, but their appeals were waved away as Billy Davies’ men ran off to celebrate.
Certain angles are inconclusive, but having seen a number of replays Karanka insisted Henderson had scored with his arm.
“I didn’t need to see the replays because I think for me my players’ reactions are enough to know it was handball,” Karanka said. “Maybe the Nottingham Forest player can explain if it was handball or not.
“I’m sure it was handball because my players told me it was and their reaction was clear. They’ve been looking at replays in the dressing room.
“It’s easy to see Dimi’s frustration because he was closest to it and he could see what had happened. He went to the referee and I’m happy for him that he had that reaction.”
Henderson’s late leveller also denied Boro equalling a 27-year-old club record of eight successive clean sheets on home soil and Karanka insisted his side deserved to win the game despite failing to put the game to bed after going ahead.
He said: “I don’t like to speak about records, I think the most important thing is to win and I think we deserved to win the game.
“We had a lot of chances to win in the second half and put the game to bed. We didn’t play very well in the first half but we had two or three clear chances and we deserved to win the game.”
Karanka also fielded an unchanged side for the first time since being appointed and he revealed he was keen to give his side another chance to impress after ending their winless run and goal drought against Ipswich Town on Saturday.
“I have injuries in defence so I couldn’t change that, but I wanted to give the attacking players another opportunity to play together because they have been playing well. “They took a lot of confidence from the last game and getting the goals. Danny hasn’t scored but his work was unbelievable again so I didn’t want to change it.”
Boro head to the south coast to take on Bournemouth on Saturday and Karanka hopes to have Lee Tomlin fit.
The striker was forced off in the first half with an ankle injury, but the Boro boss will have to wait and find out whether it is serious.
He said: “He has a problem with his ankle and I hope it is not a big problem. I hope that he can be back with us as soon as possible.”