Besic urges Boro to move on from Cardiff setback to focus on Hull crunch

Mo Besic hopes that Middlesbrough can bounce back from Saturday's defeat at Cardiff when they host lowly Hull City in the Championship tomorrow.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 19 February, 2018, 07:00
Cardiff's Sean Morrison gets the better of Ben Gibson to head the winner past Boro keeper Darren Randolph

The on-loan Everton midfielder made his Boro bow at the Cardiff City Stadium, but the lacklustre Teessiders suffered another setback to their play-off ambitions with a 1-0 loss.

“It was nice for me to start the game,” Besic told “But, unfortunately, we lost the game – we got done by a set piece and I’m not happy because we didn’t win but because I played I’m happy.

“That’s the good thing with the Championship – we still have 14 games left and the next game is Tuesday so we have to concentrate, forget about today and concentrate on the next game.

“We’re disappointed but not frustrated, we have to keep going and the next game is on Tuesday and the manager will make sure we’re all okay for it.”

Cardiff captain Sean Morrison out-muscled Ben Gibson at the back post to head home Junior Hoilett’s free-kick for the only goal after 34 minutes.

Boro manager Tony Pulis believes Morrison fouled Gibson in the act of scoring.

He said: “In the first half, we found it difficult to cope with Cardiff.

“They are very good at what they do, they have an identity and they play to that identity.

“Set plays were always going to be important. Looking back at it, Morrison was all over Gibson, but we didn’t get that decision and that was the decisive moment.

“Cardiff have five or six players over 6ft 3ins let alone 6ft, so it was always going to difficult, but I have no complaints.

“We have 14 games to go and we have to put a run together. The pitch was difficult for the players today.

“We had good footballers in the team with Stewart Downing, Grant Leadbitter and Jonny Howson but Cardiff squeezed the life out of us.

“They are second in the league for a reason, they have an identity and they play to it whether you agree with it or not.”

Joe Ralls had the chance to make it 2-0 when he battled his way past Grant Leadbitter to fashion a shooting chance, but his left-footed shot flashed wide.

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Boro almost levelled after 54 minutes when Leadbitter sparked a swift counter-attack with an inch perfect pass to Stuart Downing.

The former England winger charged towards Neil Etheridge’s goal, but failed to crown his 300th start for Boro with a goal as he dragged his effort wide.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock has set his sights on leaders Wolves after they moved into the automatic promotion places with the win.

The 69-year-old is on course for a record eighth promotion to the top-flight.

“Kevin Blackwell told me we’re now 11 points clear of seventh, but I asked him how far off Wolves we are now,” said Warnock.

“That win is as good as it gets. We restricted them to one shot in the first half, had to defend long throws, could have scored more goals but we never make things simple.

“I just think we can get better. We have players coming back from injury, so I can change two or three to give boys a breather. We’re in a good place, but we can get better.

“I’m quite pleased to just tick along. I listened to others talking about Derby and Villa’s credentials, so long may that continue.

“That’s our 15th clean sheet so we’re only one off our target of 16, the concentration levels were really good.

“Sean has got better and better. In his own box and the opposition’s, he’s grown as the season has gone on. It was a very mature performance.”

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett, Paterson (Halford 87), Grujic (Damour 71), Ralls, Hoilett, Zohore, Traore (Peltier 67). Subs not used: Pilkington, Mendez-Laing, Murphy, Wildschut. Goal: Morrison 33

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Howson (Harrison 83), Leadbitter, Besic (Assombalonga 62), Downing, Gestede (Bamford 84), Traore. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Clayton, Cranie, Fry. Booked: Besic.

Att: 18,720. Ref: Darren Bond (Lancashire).