Tony Mowbray is refusing to get carried away with Middlesbrough’s promotion prospects.
And that despite seeing Boro close to within two points of second spot in the Championship with victory over Brighton at the Riverside Stadium.
The only goal of an ill-tempered game arrived midway through the first half, when Seagulls goalkeeper Casper Ankergren spilled an innocuous cross from Joe Bennett and Scott McDonald pounced to convert from close range at the second attempt.
Although they failed to display their best form in the final third, Boro were good value for their win on a day when leaders Southampton were held by Blackpool and second-placed West Ham were thumped 3-0 at Reading.
Yet a cautious Mowbray said: “I don’t get too concerned about other teams at the moment.
“I genuinely feel that at this stage of the season we are still just trying to accumulate points, to position ourselves for when the end of the season comes.
“The last dozen or so games; you need to be in there with a shout and the only way to be in the mix is to win games along the way.
“Southampton and West Ham, 10 days ago everybody said it was done and they were running away with the league, yet they have lost a game or two and it closes up again.
“I’m pretty sure their quality will show as the season unfolds. We have to try to stay in the mix with them and results like today will help our chance of doing that.”
Asked if his team should have scored more than once, Mowbray responded: “We sit here and say that quite often. I think it just shows the tightness of the league. It’s a very tight, competitive division.
“Most weeks it’s tight for us. It’s pretty typical of us to put our fans through torture in the last five or 10 minutes.
“But I think we played against a good side today, who spread out and play, expand the pitch and ask questions of you. We’re delighted to take the points.”
Mowbray was unable to confirm the extent or nature of the injury that saw top scorer Marvin Emnes limp off after the interval.
“We’ll wait and see,” he said.
“Let’s see how it settles down and hopefully it will be better news on Monday.
“If Marvin is injured we have to get on with it. It’s a long hard winter for every team in this league, so we will have injuries. We will cope hopefully.”
The hosts were the first to threaten when Zemmama volleyed wide from the edge of the area in the sixth minute.
Full story in Monday’s mail