MATT Clarke expects more twists in the Championship promotion race after a week of slip-ups from teams at the top - and says Middlesbrough must be ready to pounce on any blunders from their rivals.

Only three of the division's top 10 teams won in midweek, and one of those was West Brom, who beat bottom club and already relegated Rotherham.

Boro and Hull had to settle for a draw on Wednesday night and both failed to close the gap to the top six after Norwich and Coventry had dropped points 24 hours earlier.

But defender Clarke says Boro - who are unbeaten in their last eight - can't be downbeat after picking up a point at the MKM Stadium and must head for Ipswich tomorrow believing they can still force their way into the play-offs, even though they're six points adrift.

"You've seen it over the last few days, you look at the fixtures and thinks the top teams will win them all, but that's just not the case," said Clarke.

"You have to believe there's an opening there for us, it's up to us to keep that going. We're desperate to keep this run going. We're on a good streak, we're not giving up goals too easily and we're not losing games and we're desperate to keep that."


Ipswich are having a bit of wobble themselves, having lost to Norwich last Saturday and not able to force a breakthrough in Wednesday's stalemate with Watford.

Clarke told BBC Tees: "These are the sort of games you want to be involved in. Let's have it. We'll go there and believe we can do what it takes to win the game."

After a year of injury misery, Clarke has returned and established himself as a key man for Boro and was part of the defence that kept five clean sheets in six games prior to the Hull game.

Boro couldn't keep another shut-out against the Tigers and the second goal they conceded was self-inflicted after goalkeeper Seny Dieng played it short to Lewis O'Brien, who was under pressure and dispossessed, allowing Jean Michael Seri to lash home.

Carrick leapt to the defence of Dieng and Boro's approach after the game and his message was echoed by Clarke.

"If you're going to play that way, bounce out from the keeper and play through the thirds that's part and parcel of it," said the centre-half.

"If it comes every week and it's not on and we try it, that's when there are issues. The mentality of the side is let's stay in games and not throw goals and games away but on the flip side we believe in it and see the success it brings us.

"You look at the first goal (Boro scored at Hull) and the chances in the second half, it can be a real positive for us. It won't be the first or last time."