JONATHAN WOODGATE felt his Middlesbrough side were denied two “blatant penalties” during their 1-1 draw with Millwall at the Riverside.

Boro were denied what would have been a second win of the season when Millwall substitute Tom Bradshaw cancelled out Paddy McNair’s second-half strike, but Woodgate felt his side might have been out of sight had referee John Brooks awarded them a couple of penalties.

Britt Assombalonga’s second-half header from a Jonny Howson cross appeared to strike Millwall full-back Mahlon Romeo on the arm, while Marvin Johnson fired a late shot into a group of defenders and was convinced he should have had a spot-kick.

However, while Brooks acted decisively to send Millwall boss Neil Harris to the stands after he struck Leo Percovich in the technical area prior to the interval, the official did not feel either handball offence warranted the award of a spot-kick.

Woodgate said: “I don’t know if you’ve seen the two handballs, but they are blatant handballs. These are the decisions which are going against us at the minute, which is not ideal. Sooner or later we’ll get the rub of the green, but it’s not very often you get two in a game that are blatant handballs.

“I’m not going to start complaining, that’s life. You reap what you sow sometimes, and decisions will turn for us, but they are blatant, blatant handballs. You can blatantly see they are two handballs.

“I’ll try to speak to the referee. It’ll be civilised, I won’t go into his room ranting and raving or fighting or anything like that, I’ll go in and have a civilised conversation with him.”

Having watched his side claim their first victory of the campaign against Wigan on Tuesday, Woodgate felt there were further signs of progress in the second half of today’s game, even if he conceded his side were second-best before the interval.

“I thought the second half was a different performance compared to the first half, when I thought they were on top,” he said. “In the second half, I thought we were very good. We moved the ball at speed, like we want to do all game.

“It's been difficult at times to try and get them to play how we really want them to play. It's a difficult league and sometimes you are going to get teams who do play really direct and we've got to deal with that and get our game going from there.

“But you can see throughout the game we're playing well in one half but not the other half. We need to put it all together and it just takes time to get it like that.

“The players are buying into it you can see what we are trying to do in either a first half or a second half – we just need to glue it together.”

Woodgate defended Harris’ conduct, and felt the Millwall manager should not have been sent the stands.

“It's one of those things that happen in football, and I don't want to see Neil get sent off,” he said. “I didn't think he deserved to.

“He's a fantastic guy and a top manager, and I think the referee can deal with that better. There’s no point in giving him a red card for the sake of giving him a red card.”

Harris apologised for straying into Middlesbrough’s technical area, but did not feel his attempt to dislodge the ball from under Percovich’s arm warranted his dismissal.

“I don’t think there’s a problem between me and the Middlesbrough staff,” said the Millwall boss. “What I will say is that I went into their technical area, and that’s a no-no. So apologies to Jonathan and his group for that.

“We were so dominant in the first half that I was trying to hurry along with the game. He’s (Percovich) got the ball under his arm, and I sort of wanted to hit the ball from under his arm. It wasn’t aimed at the coaching staff, but he’s moved and I’ve hit his arm.

“There’s no issue there, and I was a little bit surprised I was sent to the stand for it considering there was never going to be an issue with Middlesbrough’s coaching staff. I’m a little bit disappointed with that when I thought the fourth official might have had a little bit more of an input into various decisions on the pitch.”