SIR BOBBY ROBSON and Alan Shearer accused referee Andy D'Urso of costing Newcastle United at least a point from last night's game at Middlesbrough, writes Steven Baker.

Robson insisted D'Urso had missed "two clear fouls" on Newcastle players in the build-up to Geremi's goal in Boro's 1-0 victory.

John Carver, Robson's lieutenant, had to intervene after Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy and Titus Bramble confronted D'Urso and the assistant referees after the final whistle.

Robson said: "There were two clear fouls on Craig Bellamy and Jermaine Jenas in the middle of the field prior to the goal, and the referee played on.We had a period of 20 minutes where we never got a decision and that didn't help. You can read between the lines and decide what I think about that. The players gave their own views to the referee, and as long as they do it properly I don't mind.

"I think that, had I been a player, I might have done the same."

Shearer added: "Referees are put in the middle to do a job. Sometimes they do it well - and sometimes they don't.''

Robson admitted Newcastle were below par, failing to score for the first time since the 1-0 loss at Arsenal almost four months ago.

He said: "We didn't play enough clever balls into the box and we didn't work the flanks well enough. We played everything through the middle, which is their strongest point. We didn't open them up or get enough crosses in. I have to give Middlesbrough a fair bit of credit because they fought very hard. I would say they defended better in this game than in any other match this season.

"Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate did very well against Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy.

"But Woodgate was superb, and his performance and that of Bramble were plus points.''

Robson refused to countenance any prospect of them putting together a concerted Premiership title bid, adding: "We've never talked about winning the League.

"We just said we'd try to threaten the top two and challenge for the League. And we still can.''

Boro boss Steve McClaren was full of praise for Geremi and Juninho, who was excellent as he continued his comeback from his cruciate knee ligament injury.

McClaren said: "Geremi is our joint top scorer now and he did well to get in there with his head for the goal. I thought Juninho was a little rusty at the start but he got stronger as the game went on."