TWO home games, two reasons to bemoan a series of poor decisions from the referee. It hasn’t taken long for Jonathan Woodgate to receive a crash course in the trials and tribulations of football management.

Against Brentford, it was goals being wrongly chalked off that irked the Middlesbrough head coach. On Saturday, against Millwall, it was penalty calls being turned down that left him fuming on the touchline.

His players shared his frustrations, and while the mantra of decisions evening themselves out over the course of a season tends to ring true, it is scant consolation when points are being squandered because of poor officiating.

“We’ve had two games now where we think that the decisions have gone against us,” said Jonny Howson. “We thought we had two good goals against Brentford and then we should maybe have had two penalties against Millwall.

“It’s frustrating, very frustrating. But what can we do about it? Sometimes, if you just get a break, the rub of the green, then it can all suddenly click.

“If you think back to the Brentford game, if we go in two up at half-time then it is not just a different game, everything changes. So yes, it’s disappointing, but we have to concentrate on ourselves. Hopefully, we’ll get that bit of luck.”

Had VAR been operational in the Championship, Boro would almost certainly have been awarded a second-half penalty when Britt Assombalonga’s header struck Mahlon Romeo on the arm.

It was the kind of incident that is being routinely picked up by VAR – Romeo’s handball was certainly more blatant than the brush from Aymeric Laporte that resulted in a Manchester City winner against Tottenham being ruled out – but without technology to fall back on, Championship referees seem reluctant to enforce a strict interpretation of the new handball law.

“When I first saw the Britt one, I thought it was a blatant penalty,” said Howson. “Britt’s headed it towards goal. He was stood there with his hand in the air, so obviously you think it is a penalty.

“But I believe in looking at the positives. In pretty much all the games, there have been positives.

“It’s down to us to keep working, get better and knit it all together.”