MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray has cooled all talk of a Barclays Premier League push.
This despite seeing his side continue their fine start to the season by knocking Gillingham out of the Capital One Cup.
Winger Mustapha Carayol, who joined from Bristol Rovers earlier this month, broke clear of the npower League Two Gills’ defence to fire Boro ahead on 23 minutes.
Gillingham cranked up the pressure in the closing stages with Danny Kedwell twice firing wide before Cameron Park sealed the win with a fine chip over Stuart Nelson.
The result made it three wins on the spin in league and cup for Mowbray’s Championship side but the Middlesbrough manager was quick to keep expectations in check.
“It’s too early to suggest anything about promotion I think. We’ve halved the budget in the 18 months since I’ve been here so we’re just trying to build a team,” said Mowbray, whose side face a trip to Millwall on Saturday.
“We have to punch above our weight in the league this year. Hopefully we’ll be at the right end of the table at the end of the campaign.”
The win sets up Boro nicely for another trip south, a televised npower Championship match at Milwall on Saturday lunchtime.
“Every game in this league is difficult, none more so than Millwall away I would have to say,” Mowbray said.
“Their supporters create an almost unique atmosphere in Championship football. It’s tough for anybody.
“I think first-half we were very definitely on top, and it was disappointing we only had a one-goal advantage at the break.
“In the second half we got dragged into a bit of a scrappy affair.
“We were not as fluent and did not make as many chances as we could and should have done.
“They made a real game of it and had a real go by putting us under pressure, but we managed to see it out and late on we put the game to bed.
“You expect Martin’s teams to be fully committed and they were, you can see why they’re doing well in their league.”
Swansea target Marvin Emnes almost had Middlesbrough ahead in the opening five minutes when he beat the offside trap only for goalkeeper Nelson to deny him.
Kedwell fired wide but Boro went straight down the other end and Carayol bundled his way through before beating Nelson for the opener.
The Gambian winger almost doubled his tally straight after the break only to see his effort deflect off Callum Davies and onto the post.
Gillingham should have equalised when Deon Burton headed on for Kedwell but the striker fired just wide, before Boro saw highly-rated defender Rhys Williams stretchered off after twisting his ankle.
The hosts dominated the closing stages but when Kedwell lost the ball in midfield Park broke clear and chipped Nelson to seal the win after 89 minutes.
Boro will now be hoping for just one thing from the Capital One Cup – the luck of the draw.
Boro reached round three when their much-changed side ended the unbeaten start to the season of Martin Allen’s team.
It is four years – and eight matches – since Boro last had a home tie and Mowbray’s side surely deserve a bit of good fortune after a good win at Priestfield.
“We have got players who can make a difference and who have exceptional talent,” Mowbray said.
“Nights like last night we need to utilise them. Other times when it’s backs to the wall you need more soldiers on the pitch than artists.
“In the first half, the artists came to the fore and showed their talent.
“Let’s wait and see who we get in the draw – the good thing about this competition is that it finishes on the night, you are not doing replays.”