DANIEL AYALA admitted conceding a last gasp equaliser against Birmingham City felt like a defeat for Middlesbrough at St Andrew’s.
Boro twice took the lead in the Midlands and looked to be heading for a vital away win after five successive defeats on the road.
However, two more costly mistakes allowed struggling Birmingham back into the game with Boro again proving to be the architects of their own downfall by conceding two soft goals.
The first came from a clumsy challenge inside the box by Ben Gibson on Blues substitute Chris Burke with Paul Caddis cancelling out Muzzy Carayol’s 22nd minute opener from the spot.
Then, after Ayala had scored his third goal since joining on a loan from Norwich, Boro failed to mark Kyle Bartley from a corner and the Birmingham City substitute, who had only been on the field a matter of minutes, was allowed to head in Burke’s corner unmarked in the fourth minute of added on time.
It meant Aitor Karanka’s men returned to Teesside with only a point when in reality it should have really been three.
The draw saw Boro slip a place to 19th in the table and Ayala admits coming away with a draw felt like a defeat after his side had twice got themselves in front away from home.
“It does feel like a defeat,” the Spanish defender said. “We are gutted because we were in front in the first half and then again in the second half so to concede in the last minute is unbelievable.
“We knew it was a big opportunity, especially when we were winning. We knew we had to get a second goal because when you’re at home and you’re losing the crowd go against you so we knew when we scored the second goal it wasn’t going to be easy but we were 1-0 up and we should have been more and that’s why we came away without a win.
“It’s unbelievable. We need to keep concentration at the end but I think that’s all. I think we were also unlucky to concede.
“When you are winning just 1-0, it’s never the end of the game. We need to score a second and third goal to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Ayala returned to Karanka’s starting line-up for the first time since his mistake at Leeds United and despite the result the Spaniard impressed.
With George Friend likely to be missing for two weeks with a knee injury, Ayala will probably continue to play alongside Jonathan Woodgate. The Spaniard was pleased to be back in the side, but admits it would have been better if Boro had held on for the win.
He said: “I’m really pleased but the important thing is to get the result and we didn’t get that so it’s a bit bitter because of that.
“When you draw it’s not a good feeling but I think I did well. Zigic was a big threat and I think I played well against him.
“The player (Burke) that came on in a second half made a big difference for them. We didn’t have him to worry about in the first half, then they brought another player on late in the game and nobody picked him and that’s why he got the free header and scored.”