A FUMING Grant Leadbitter is determined to use the injustice suffered by Middlesbrough in the 1-0 loss at Norwich as a way of pushing even harder in their play-off battle.

The Boro skipper insisted a red card was wrongly shown for Rudy Gestede’s tackle on former Newcastle United defender Grant Hanley, and that detrimentally affected the match.

“Everyone in the ground knows the sending off changed the game,” said Leadbitter. “We were playing well, had three good chances before the sending off. But we can’t do anything about it now.”

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Gestede had been booked five minutes earlier for accidentally catching Alex Tettey in the face with a high boot but Leadbitter doesn’t believe that should have had any bearing on the French forward’s decision to lunge for the ball against Hanley.

“What is being silly about going in for a tackle?” said Leadbitter. “Rudy has nothing to apologise for, he was trying to win the ball for the team.

“It seems these days you can’t make tackles. It was a fair go at trying to win the ball, from where I was it looked a fair 50-50 tackle.

“I couldn’t believe it when the ref showed a straight red card. I didn’t think it was even a yellow. We have to move on now.”

Once Boro went down to ten men, they had to change their game strategy and looked to catch Norwich on the break after showing real attacking intent for the first 25 minutes.

Leadbitter added: “We sat deep and play a certain type of football looking to counter. It didn’t work and it doesn’t matter if it was just one goal, we lost. That is hard to take, especially when we had created so much in the opening 25 minutes before the sending off.”

The defeat means Boro have slipped further in the race to make the top six but Leadbitter has refused to give up on making the play offs.

Leadbitter said: “Something like this brings us closer. On the pitch we dug deep and we have to give it a big push for these final 16 games.

“I feel for the fans because they didn’t get a fair crack of the whip in seeing their team get a result.

 “We have to use this frustration in the right way and go out there and win football games.

 “The gap has got bigger but that’s football, we have to keep fighting. There are 16 games to go so we have to fight for every point.”

The defeat could have been heavier but for keeper Darren Randolph who made a string of good saves, especially a one handed stop at full stretch to turn away a Nelson Oliveira strike.

“Darren did brilliant,” said Leadbitter. “You expect your keeper to make saves and Darren does that game after game for us.

“Overall, all the lads did very well today after going down to ten men.”