Tony Pulis reveals his one big mistake as Middlesbrough lose ground on Leeds and Norwich

Tony Pulis admitted his decision to play Britt Assombalonga on the left-hand side was 'not brilliant' as Middlesbrough lost out to QPR.

Sunday, 16th December 2018, 9:24 am
Updated Sunday, 16th December 2018, 9:28 am
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis has revealed his key mistake
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis has revealed his key mistake

Assombalonga, naturally a central striker, started out wide at Loftus Road and proved ineffectual during a poor first half from Boro which saw them fall behind to Paweł Wszołek's fourth-minute strike.

George Saville did manage to level things up for Boro with a well-taken volley from 20 yards, but Nakhi Wells restored the R's lead just minutes later.

And that proved enough for the hosts, whose manager Steve McClaren was able to get one over on his former employers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But the current occupant of the Riverside Stadium hotseat was left disappointed with the decision he made - and several of those made by referee Oliver Langford.

It was the latter that left Pulis seething as he felt the Teessiders were once again let down by poor officiating.

“Not brilliant,” he said, speaking to BBC Radio Tees, when asked how changing Assombalonga's position had worked.

“I don’t think we had one shot on goal first half.

"We’ve got to keep going, we need a few breaks, we certainly don’t need decisions going against us like we did today.

"I don’t want to harp on too much about it but I’m going to today.

"We have an incident in their box from a corner where Assombalonga is actually rugby tackled down and the referee’s five yards away from it and doesn’t give it.

"And we’ve got an incident second half where the official, at 1-1, gives off-side and their player touched the ball last when Britt tackles him. Jonny Howson is 100% not offside.

“Not only does he (the ref) give off-side but the goalkeeper takes (the free-kick) from the edge of the box with the ball rolling when the incident has happened 25 yards away and we have four or five players past the ball when they scored the second goal."

Defeat leaves Middlesbrough sat sixth in the Championship, as pace-setters Leeds and Norwich strengthened their grip on the two promotion places.

And while Pulis is growing wary of the widening gap between his side and the summit, he is keen to ensure the focus remains on Boro rather than those around them.

"Yes, of course we are," he said, when asked if he was concerned of the gap.

"But we’ve got to worry winning games ourselves rather than worrying about what other teams are doing.”