MIDDLESBROUGH manager Aitor Karanka vented his frustration at the officials following Boro’s 1-0 Championship loss to Reading.
Simon Cox struck in the seventh minute as the Royals ultimately grabbed their second league win of the season.
But Karanka was left bemoaning the events thereafter, with apparent Reading time-wasting going unpunished as his side failed to grab what would have been a deserved leveller.
He said: “It is something that I do not like (time-wasting).
“It is frustrating but they can do it. Me and a member of my staff went to the linesman and fourth official and they didn’t want to speak with us.
“Then 30 seconds later they were with the other bench laughing and joking. That is what is frustrating, not Reading’s game.
“I am frustrated by the fourth official’s behaviour and it is not the first time. We were playing at the tempo the referee wanted. He wanted to stop play and he did.
“If the goalkeeper wanted to keep the ball for 13 seconds before a goal kick, they let it happen.”
Karanka has also welcomed the down period, suggesting his troops will be putting in plenty of hard work.
He said: “We were a team without spirit and character, especially in the first half, and we have to improve our consistency.
“The best thing is to have two weeks to work again with all of the squad together. We need to improve and recover our style.
Boro may be bolstered by the time they travel to Huddersfield in a fortnight, with reports in Belgium suggesting Genk’s Jelle Vossen is on the verge of joining on loan with a view to a permanent move.
Karanka confirmed the club are in talks with the striker and also suggested there could be more arrivals before the transfer deadline on Monday.
He said: “We are speaking with Vossen and other players. I expect to be working until the last second on Monday.”
Middlesbrough started brightly against Reading and showed plenty of ingenuity from set-pieces, Grant Leadbitter pulling a corner to the edge of the box – only to see Adam Clayton volley over.
Reading were caught out again moments later, Leadbitter this time sliding through Kike with a clever free-kick.
The Spaniard drew a save from Adam Federici, who had to be on high alert soon after to turn Albert Adomah’s fizzing effort beyond the post.
And the dramatic start continued as Reading took the lead with their first attack in the seventh minute.
Ryan Edwards was the creator, his inch-perfect ball converted with aplomb by Cox - who looped a delicate volley over Tomas Mejias and into the net.
The game unsurprisingly settled down thereafter as Boro struggled for the same fluency while Reading settled into a rhythm.
Indeed, the next meaningful effort did not come until the 33rd minute, Federici producing a comfortable save to keep out Lee Tomlin’s weak strike.
Middlesbrough did end the half strongly, but Clayton and Kike were both guilty of spurning gilt-edged opportunities.
Picking up where they left off, Karanka’s side continued to pile forward with Tomlin hitting a powerful effort over.
That added to the palpable sense of frustration inside the Riverside, with blatant Reading time-wasting also bringing vitriol from the stands.
Their annoyance was only enhanced, too, when Adam Reach’s cross deflected off Chris Gunter and on to the post.
Still somehow behind, Middlesbrough maintained their endeavour against a side lacking any real desire to press forward.
But, despite bringing on Patrick Bamford - the Chelsea forward who has joined on loan until the New Year - they were finding it increasingly difficult to get past a resolute Royals rearguard.
Even on the one further occasion they did break through, it failed to bring a leveller as Kike somehow turned an effort wide with the goal gaping.