GARRY MONK thinks Middlesbrough’s performance after being reduced to ten men at Aston Villa last night is another indication that his players are growing as a group under his watch.

Monk will weigh up whether to appeal referee James Linington’s decision to send Adama Traore off inside four minutes at Villa Park, which left Boro facing an uphill task to record a positive result at a tough venue.

He felt the decision was “harsh” but was keen to concentrate on how well he felt the rest of the team did to record a point against a talented Aston Villa side.

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Middlesbrough went on to deliver a fourth successive clean sheet and it is the fifth shut-out they have earned from seven Championship matches this season.

But the impressive manner in which they prevented Aston Villa from finding the crucial breakthrough has led Monk to believe that things are moving in the right direction.

After the goalless draw, he said: “I’m extremely proud of these players. We started the game really well, on the front foot. The game changed on the red card.

“You have to face those moments and get on with it. For the players to focus on changing the system like they did, like we have worked on when we go down to ten men, is credit to them all. I am very proud of them.

“It takes character and heart to do what we did, against an experienced side. It’s credit to the fitness of them all and what we did during pre-season too.

“I think they are growing all the time. This is more than a point tonight because I have seen the true mentality of the group, they are very strong.

“We had a couple of moments ourselves which we could have done more with. I do think they are growing all the time, gelling together a group.

“When you face adversity I am pleased they came through it. We are hoping it will be repeated and we show that desire again.”

While Monk was satisfied in the end with a point he wanted to make clear that Middlesbrough would not have been targeting that beforehand.

He said: “We came here to win, we didn’t come here to defend. We came to attack and we did that. We will never know how the game would have panned out 11 v 11.

“But throughout the season you face different situations, to come through that tonight in adversity is credit to them all. We had a couple of chances, they did as well.

“To go that long without conceding with ten men as well … it was more than point because of the togetherness we have shown.”

Traore was dismissed early on for his wild lunge on Villa midfielder Connor Hourihane as he attempted to play a ball down the line. The incident took place right near the touchline and deep in the home side’s half.

Even though there didn’t seem to be malice in the attempted tackle, the Spanish winger – who was outstanding at Bolton on Saturday – did appear to be over-enthusiastic with his attempt to block and the wet surface didn’t help his cause.

Monk, who will be without Traore for three matches, said: “I think it was an honest attempt, with minimal contact. Of course in this day and age, and how it is, with these conditions, these things are happening.

“But I think it was an honest attempt to block a ball down the line and I wouldn’t expect my players not to make that honest attempt. I do think it was harsh.

“It is what you have to deal with and I am more focused on what we have to do afterwards and we were excellent afterwards.

“You need that little bit of luck too and we got that. Your energy levels are going to be lower when you are down to ten men for long period.”

Asked about an appeal, Monk said: “I will have to see. I have watched it back. I will see how that process will work. I think both were extremely harsh (referring to Henri Lansbury’s red card in second half for tripping Marvin Johnson). The referee didn’t have the luxury of the different angles. We will judge that later.”