NEIL WARNOCK branded his Middlesbrough side’s defending as “scandalous” as the long wait for a first home win of the year continued.

Boro have still not won at the Riverside since Boxing Day, with their latest setback coming via a 3-1 defeat to Bristol City.

Nakhi Wells scored twice, with Jamie Paterson also finding the target, as the Boro defence was repeatedly sliced apart.

The defeat leaves Boro just two points clear of the relegation zone with three games remaining, and Warnock admits his players are their own worst enemies as they continue to make defensive mistakes.

The Boro boss said: “You’ve got to hope that you’ve got players who can read situations, and then it doesn’t materialise into a breakaway. You’ve got to have people talking on the pitch. They scored their second goal from our corner, and that’s scandalous at this level.

“We can’t rely on anyone else.  We’ve got three games to come and they’ll be tough, but you can’t say a game that isn’t tough. When you don’t score enough goals and you concede silly goals like we do, it’s a bad recipe.

“But there’s other teams down there I think are in a worse situation, and we have to capitalise on that. We haven’t got to worry about what’s said about us or anything like that, we just have to regroup and get the points.”

Boro fell behind when Wells opened the scoring in the sixth minute, but Warnock’s side created two excellent chances to get back into things in the first half.

George Saville was unfortunate to see his goalbound header tipped onto the crossbar, but Dael Fry wasted a glorious opportunity as he blazed over the crossbar from eight yards.

Warnock said: “You can see why confidence is low, but I know it sounds silly, goals change games. We had two very good opportunities in that first half, and when you look it back, I don’t know how Dael has missed that, and neither does Dael.

“They’re opportunities that could be massive, but we never give ourselves a lift. It’s like Jordan Hugill’s goal (for QPR) – the kid (Wells) has never meant to score that first goal today. He’s trying to put it back in the box.

“Then we have two great chances, and okay, the keeper’s made a great save to put the ball onto the bar, but Dael’s chance, you’re not going to get an easier chance than that to get an equaliser.

“It’s disappointing. They get confident because they get the second goal out of nothing. I thought we gave it a go in the second half, and I don’t think they could give me any more effort. I can’t fault that at all. We’ve got three games to go and we’ve got to make our own luck. We can’t dwell on it.”

Boro return to action at Reading on Tuesday, and Warnock remains confident they will haul themselves out of trouble.

He said: “It’s disappointing and the fans will be disappointed tonight. It’ll all be doom and gloom, but we haven’t got time for that. We have to stay in this league by hook or by crook, and then one or two thing have to change quickly. But first things first, we need the points.”