Middlesbrough boss takes positives from Swansea drew as Hull crunch approaches

Victor Valdes makes a save for Boro at Swansea.
Victor Valdes makes a save for Boro at Swansea.

Interim Middlesbrough manager Steve Agnew says his players will be encouraged by the nature of their performance in yesterday’s draw at Swansea.

Boro have another huge relegation clash on Wednesday when they travel to Hull.

Injured pair Gaston Ramirez and Fabio could both be doubts for that game after being forced off at the Liberty Stadium.

But Agnew believed the players will go into Wednesday’s game lifted by the point.

“We came here to win and we’re disappointed we’ve not come away with the three points,” Agnew said.

“But the attitude and intensity of the players was there for all to see and that will hold us in good stead for Wednesday night.

“The players were a little bit flat initially when they came in after the game.

“But they will gain confidence and belief from the performance and we’ll take that in to Wednesday night. It’s good that the game comes round so soon.

“They were a threat from set-pieces, but we were solid and we were dangerous when (Adama) Traore took the ball up the pitch and (Rudy) Gestede and (Alvaro) Negredo combined.

“It just didn’t quite drop for us in the box, but I saw lots of things we can take encouragement from.”

Paul Clement complained that Swansea should have been awarded a late penalty.

There were five minutes remaining when Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goalbound free-kick struck the arm of Adam Forshaw in the Middlesbrough wall.

But referee Bobby Madley frustrated Clement and the majority of fans inside the Liberty Stadium crowd when he pointed for a corner rather than to the penalty spot.

“I didn’t see it in real time,” Clement said. “But having looked back at it, he clearly comes out with his arms and that doesn’t look like a natural position to me. When you look at it in slow motion it looks like a penalty.”

Swansea suffered a blow before kick-off when top scorer Fernando Llorente was ruled out with a calf problem.

On many occasions Swansea found themselves in decent crossing positions, but the ball had to be too precise to find Llorente’s replacement Jordan Ayew and a Boro defence well-marshalled by skipper Ben Gibson coped comfortably.

Boro’s threat was also fleeting in a first period which started brightly but quietened down as both teams began to settle.

Sigurdsson had one tame effort before the Iceland international produced a delicious touch to find a yard of space and unleash a 25-yard pile-driver which Victor Valdes stretched to push away.

At the other end Adama Traore dragged his shot wide before outpacing Mawson and picking out Adam Clayton at the far post.

Clayton headed the ball down into the path of Negredo, but Lukasz Fabianski was out quickly from his goal to prevent the striker from profiting.

Negredo had another opening after 75 minutes when Gestede nodded down Bernado Espinosa’s long ball into his path.

He did well to hold off Mawson but he was off balance when he took a shot which ended wide of Fabianski’s goal.

Swansea had late opportunities when Sigurdsson’s free-kick was deflected wide - the hosts believing a penalty might have been awarded after the ball had struck a stray Boro arm - and Mawson’s goalbound header was cleared by Marten de Roon.

But Gestede wasted an even better chance at the death when he sent his far-post header wide.

Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Fer, Cork, Carroll, Narsingh, Ayew, Sigurdsson. Subs Not Used: Ki, van der Hoorn, Borja Baston, Nordfeldt, Montero, Kingsley, McBurnie. Booked: Fer, Mawson.

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Bernardo, Gibson, Da Silva (Forshaw 65), Clayton, de Roon, Traore, Downing, Ramirez (Gestede 39), Negredo. Subs Not Used: Ayala, Leadbitter, Guzan, Stuani, Guedioura. Booked: Da Silva, Negredo, Gestede.

Att: 20,354 Ref: Robert Madley.