MIDDLESBROUGH defender Ben Gibson admits the team felt they were robbed in Tuesday’s night’s draw with Nottingham Forest, but admits they must take a share of the responsibility for failing to beat Billy Davies’ side.
DARIUS HAND-ERSON: Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson’s last-ditch challenge cannot halt Darius Henderson, who appeared to usher the ball into the net via his hand on Tuesday night
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The Teessiders were left disappointed and frustrated when Forest striker Darius Henderson scored a late equaliser using his hand at the Riverside.
Henderson’s actions ensured Forest left Teesside with a crucial point in their fight for promotion, but it left the Riverside a deflated place after Aitor Karanka’s side had come within ten minutes of recording back-to-back home wins for the first time since December.
It also means Middlesbrough have managed only one win in their last nine and despite such a run seeing their play-off chances evaporate, Gibson, who impressed alongside Kenneth Omeruo for the second game running, insists their injustice will spur the team on to mount one last push towards a top-six finish.
The 21-year-old revealed the squad felt aggrieved, but admitted they could have done more to finish off Forest before Henderson struck in the 80th minute.
“What’s happened will make us more determined because we feel we’ve been robbed of two points,” Gibson said. “We’ll try our best to make sure we get three points at the weekend.
“That’s all we can do because there’s no point in crying over spilt milk. That’s not going to change now. The game’s gone and we have to get on with it and focus on the next one.
“We can’t control what the referee does so we have to control what we do and there’s no doubt that we could have put the game to bed earlier. We had chances. I had one myself when it was 1-1 but we did have other chances and we have to learn to put games to bed and take that element of doubt out of their hands really.”
As things stand, Boro lie 11 points behind six-placed Reading with 11 games to play and although it will take an impressive run of form to catch-up, Gibson revealed the squad still hasn’t given up hope.
He said: “We did put a good run together over Christmas so we know we’re capable of doing it. We’ve looked at the table and we’re 11 points behind with 11 games left. If you put that sort of run together again and extend it for a little bit longer who knows where we could end up.
“I think the atmosphere at the end (on Tuesday) showed that we have made progress. It was flat but that’s a good thing because if people were happy with a draw at home in the Championship there’s something really wrong.
“We want to win games and climb the table. We haven’t given up on the play-offs yet, it’s going to take a long run to get close, but we’ll keep fighting until the end.”
Henderson’s hand of god moment also saw the opportunity for Karanka’s side to equal a 27-year-old club record disappear. Prior to Tuesday night’s game Boro had kept seven consecutive clean sheets at the Riverside and although he wasn’t aware of the record, Gibson admits missing out on the chance to enter the history books in the circumstances was a bitter pill to swallow.
“As a defender every game you want to keep a clean sheet,” the Nunthorpe-born defender said. “We feel as though we saw a lot of pressure out in the first half so to see that disappear right near the end was very disappointing.
“We have defended really well but it’s something we’ve got to take on the chin and learn from.
“That’s the second game on the bounce I’ve played with Kenneth. He’s a great lad. We talk to each other and help each other. We’re both quite athletic and it looks like we fit very well together so far.
“We were disappointed with our first half. We didn’t build on the weekend at all but we responded in the second half but we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted.
“We didn’t move the ball as quick and we didn’t get about them as well. It’s the answer every manager and player wants, but we stayed in the game and took the lead.”