AFTER the embarrassment of captaining a side that allowed a three goal lead to evaporate in just 12 minutes against the second worst side in the Premiership, many footballers could be forgiven for wanting to forget all about it.

The option of 'putting that one down to experience' would suit most, but not Middlesbrough skipper Gareth Southgate

His first inclination after Saturday's thoroughly depressing capitulation that reduced a delirious and noisy away following to silence was to relive the whole experience at the earliest possible opportunity.

The skipper couldn't quite explain why a routine trouncing of a side battling the drop turned into the Premiership story of the day.

Why Dean Ashton, Leon McKenzie and then an unmarked Adam Drury were allowed to turn a game that just wasn't there for the turning.

On 78 minutes Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink curled a free kick into Robert Green's bottom right hand corner for his second goal of the game and Boro's fourth.

It was the cue for hundreds of Norwich fans to head for the exits sure in the knowledge that this wasn't there day.

It is unknown whether both sets of players saw the mass exodus, but two crucial assumptions were made at that moment that turned the game.

Boro thought they'd won it and Norwich decided they'd nothing to lose. And, according to Southgate, the Canaries may have even snatched victory if referee Matt Messias had added a few more minutes of injury time.

"I haven't been involved in a game like that - not since I was a kid I think," was Southgate's take on defending more criminal than schoolboy.

"The way the momentum was going another five minutes and they'd have probably won it.

"The problem was that we switched off as team allowing them to take a free kick for the second and to be honest we need to see the last ten minutes again.

"We were a bit stunned because things were happening and even after the game we were not quite sure how they happened.

"The one thing I know we did do was keep giving them the ball back and inviting pressure.

"We know we've thrown two points away and that's an opportunity we can't afford to give up.

"We were really untroubled until they scored the second goal."

The captain was only partially correct in that statement.

It is unknown what Colin Cooper thought of Steve McClaren's decision to partner Southgate with full back Michael Reiziger in central defence, but it may be safe to assume he wasn't 100 per cent behind the move.

The idea was to add a bit a pace to counter the threat of Darren Huckerby, who set up the opening goal and was involved in the other three.

A routine cross from Jim Brennan on the left wasn't cleared properly and fell to the unmarked former Manchester City, Coventry and Newcastle United front man.

His cross-shot squirmed past the despairing Mark Schwarzer and Damien Francis fired home on the line.

Four minutes later and it could have been a whole lot worse for Boro. Franck Queudrue gave the ball away to Ashton who slipped it past the French defender and was then hauled down.

Looking along the defensive line it could be argued Queudrue was the last man but when referee Messias flashed a card it wasn't red.

Boro settled down and then took control.

Hasselbaink's profligacy in front of goal appeared to be continuing when he fluffed two good chances but the Dutch striker's six-game barren run ended on 34 minutes.

Some neat play down the left between Stewart Downing and Bolo Zenden allowed Downing to fire an effort in that Hasselbaink neatly flicked over Norwich keeper Green from six yards.

The first half ended all square but McClaren had seen enough to decide changes were needed.

Brazilian Doriva was unlucky to be the fall guy as McClaren attempted to add some width down the right bringing James Morrison into the action and ten minutes later Boro were 3-1 up.

Queudrue met Downing's in-swinging corner at the near post on 49 minutes with his head, and the Frenchman was at the back post seven minutes later to guide Southgate's flick into the bottom corner with his right foot.

When Hasselbaink hit his second on 78 minutes that appeared to be that.

McClaren said: "At 4-1 everybody agrees that we were in no trouble. We were in total control and then these things happen.You look for all kinds of reasons. Did the players switch off? Did they get complacent after going 4-1 up?

"There was no grand speech after the game. There was total silence. We've missed an opportunity."

First it was a quick free kick from the right on 80 minutes. Huckerby's cross was met by Ashton who flicked it out of the grasp of Schwarzer and then fired home - the keeper should have done better.

Ten minutes later Huckerby turned up on the left to send in a teasing cross that McKenzie flicked past Schwarzer.

The crowd were now back in full voice and when Reiziger dragged down Huckerby to give away a free kick in the 91st minute panic stations were fully manned across the Boro backline.

The free-kick was deflected wide by the wall but a good delivery from the corner by Huckerby produced the desired result.

Drury came through unmarked, headed past Schwarzer and Downing, who could do nothing at the far post to keep the ball out.

In the words of Alan Hansen it was indeed Kamikaze defending. Painful viewing the first time but sure to be viewed by the Boro defence this week again.

And then again and again and again.

Result: Norwich City 4 Middlesbrough 4.

Read more about Middlesbrough here.