Jonathan Woodgate's messages to Britt Assombalonga and Middlesbrough squad after more 'easy opportunities' missed
Middlesbrough paid the price for more missed chances at Derby County after a Tom Lawrence double secured a 2-0 win for the Rams.
Boro started the game brightly at Pride Park and should have taken the lead when Britt Assombalonga took the ball around goalkeeper Kelle Roos but saw his effort blocked on the line by defender Matt Clarke.
After Lawrence had opened the scoring on 22 minutes, Boro were then reduced to 10 men after George Saville was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Krystian Bielik.
Yet Woodgate felt the key moment was Assombalonga’s ‘easy’ opportunity which could have swung the game in the Teessiders’ favour.
“It's unbelievable really,” said Woodgate when asked about Assombalonga’s early chance.
“It's a huge chance and you have got to take it. In this league it's a cliche but it's fine margins in games. If we go one up, the fans were already getting on their back anyway, and then we get a man sent off and it’s difficult from there.
“We’re creating opportunities, to be honest with you, easy opportunities. It’s not just the forwards, it’s midfielders and defenders. You can’t always pin the blame on the forwards.
“We need to start scoring but the chance at the start is an easy chance.”
Woodgate was also without striker Ashley Fletcher at Pride Park after the frontman suffered a calf injury in training which could rule him out of next weekend’s trip to QPR.
Boro remain the lowest scorers in the Championship with just ten goals this season, and when asked if his frontmen are lacking confidence Woodgate said: “Maybe so. I can't give the forward players anymore confidence than I'm giving them.
“I've talked about them relentlessly, through pre-season, through nearly every press conference, in meetings, in one-on-ones.
“Sometimes as a player if you go through a tough spell you need to look at yourself and back yourself because you're there for a reason in the first place.
“How did you get there? What do you need to keep on doing? You need to do all the right things and keep on doing them? Sooner or later something will happen and you will start scoring.”