AITOR KARANKA is still angry that his Middlesbrough side were denied victory by a Darius Henderson goal that he felt should have been disallowed for handball.
Nottingham Forest striker Henderson stooped to handle Andy Reid’s cross past Dimi Konstantopoulos to seal a share of the spoils after Mustapha Carayol’s goal looked to have won the game for Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
ANGER STILL BURNING: Boro boss Aitor Karanka
Konstantopoulos ran half the length of the pitch to remonstrate with referee Roger East, while defender Ben Gibson revealed that Boro’s players felt that they had been robbed of two points - vital if the Teessiders are to pursue a late assault on the play-offs this season.
Karanka admitted that, three days on, the initial anger at the decision to let the goal stand remains, and he cannot understand how East did not chalk the goal off.
The Boro manager said: “Am I still angry? Yes. Because I thought we deserved to win the game. We didn’t play well in the first half but we had two or three clear chances.
“In the second half, we had a lot of chances to score, they had one. Everyone knew at the time, but I think everybody has watched the replay. I can’t say too many things about it.
“I know how difficult it is to be a referee. I know how difficult it is for them to make the right decisions.
“But it is difficult for me to understand how four referees could not see the handball. They did not help each other, and this makes it more difficult for me.
“One handball that everybody could see on the pitch, four referees could not see that. I am the first person to say that referees have a difficult job but that was an important mistake.”
East’s error comes a fortnight after Jacob Butterfield’s disallowed goal at Hillsborough which, once again, could have been the difference between a victory and a defeat - Boro lost at Sheffield Wednesday - and Karanka feels that Henderson obviously had something to hide after the game.
“This was different to Sheffield Wednesday,” said Karanka. “There, the linesman made four mistakes and all against us. The last game was one mistake - one big mistake.
“The most important thing about that was that the player who scored the goal for Nottingham Forest did not talk to the press afterwards. Normally, a player who has scored a goal to equalise would speak to the press. For a player not to do that, something has happened.”
Boro’s 1-1 draw with Forest also ended their hopes of making it eight games at the Riverside Stadium without conceding a goal, which would have been a club record, but Karanka is pleased with his side’s defensive displays over the last ten weeks.
The arrival of Shay Given on loan coincided with a new defensive stoicism in the Boro line-up, and the Spaniard is satisfied that they have looked just as resolute since Given returned to Aston Villa last month.
In his stead, Tomas Mejias - who is now out with a broken finger - and Konstantopoulos have featured between the sticks, while Karanka’s defence has been ravaged by injuries to Jonathan Woodgate and Dani Ayala.
But Karanka said: “I’m happy about the record of conceding goals. You can see the work that has gone in to preserve that record. If you are playing with the same defenders and goalkeepers always, you will say “they are playing very well” - but we are playing with the fifth keeper in four months, with different defenders each week.
“All of the goalkeepers are very good here, and the defenders also. They are always thinking about their work for the team.”