Middlesbrough defeat was not in the script

Last updated : 13 April 2014 By Tony Scholes

This one was definitely not in the script. We'd had the build up since winning at Barnsley last Tuesday that we would be promoted should we win and Derby fail to beat Huddersfield.

I thought it unlikely that Huddersfield would get anything at Derby; they didn't so even a win yesterday would have seen us still mathematically in search of another two points.

As it happens it is still five more points we are in search of but those who saw this game will find it very difficult to work out just how we didn't get anything from it. We dominated the entire game, we created enough chances to win a league, we had to contend with an incompetent fool with a whistle  but, as can happen in football, we fell to a single goal at the other end.

Dean Marney dominated in the midfield with David Jones

Middlesbrough recalled what, in reality, was their first choice central defensive pairing of Jonathan Woodgate and Daniel Ayala and played them in a three with Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah who, I think, is trying to play against us for as many different clubs as he can.

Sean Dyche made one change to the Burnley team which saw the recall of Kieran Trippier at right back with Chris Baird, who has done so well since signing a month ago, dropping to the bench.

The scene was set for the 3:07 kick off but what a mess the minute's silence and everything surrounding it turned out to be. At 3:09 the captains were still in the middle exchanging pleasantries with the referee and his assistants. Maybe it is the referee but someone has to be responsible for the lack of respect shown in not starting on time.

Then came the minute itself. What I didn't pick up on was the apparent abusing of it from the away end, presumably by a small number. That was eventually drowned out by the rest of the Middlesbrough fans singing 'Justice for the 96' which prompted booing from the Burnley fans.

But, just before 3:11 we were ready to kick off with the Clarets attacking the cricket field end.

Dyche said we would be ready for it and we were. We were, to quote the manager, moving the ball quickly through the units, Dean Marney and David Jones were dominating in midfield and the supporters in the stands just sat back and waited for the goals to go in.

Maybe our first big chance should have brought our first goal but, for once, Danny Ings took the wrong option. A superb Trippier cross found him beyond the far post. It's easy to say he should have brought it under control and given us the lead but he opted for the spectacular volley and it went nowhere near goal.

Ings has been immense for us this season and has come back at just the right time with Sam Vokes now ruled out for the foreseeable future.  He's worked tirelessly in two games in a few days, at Barnsley and then this one, so I found it quite outrageous when I read the message board comment: "Ings has come back with a really cocky attitude. The last two games has seen a major change in attitude. He needs bringing down a peg or two."

If Ings was nowhere near goal then a couple of minutes later Michael Kightly most certainly was when he headed a ball from Ben Mee onto the bar with Ashley Barnes just unable to get enough on the rebound.

Dean Marney found Ings but Chalobah just managed to block things and it looked just a matter of time before the opener came.

But it didn't and Middlesbrough had their moments. I always worry when this particular team get within 30 to 35 yards of our goal given their record against us for scoring long rangers in the last four seasons.

This time they fired a couple wide and they did get a couple of good balls into the box via Albert Adomah but overall we really should have taken a lead into half time.

By this time Derby had fallen behind, equalised and were up against ten men with one of the Huddersfield players sent off.

Things took a dramatic turn at both grounds early in the second half to just about ensure there would be no promotions.

Over at Pride Park, Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies threw a ball into his own goal, they conceded a penalty, got a second player sent off, and that was that. Darren Deadman had been waving his cards again and Derby were 3-1 up and heading for victory.

At Burnley we won a corner on the left after they'd just about managed to scramble the ball away. That corner led to the only goal of the game.

Kightly's flag kick went to the near post where no Burnley player went. It was hacked clear but only as far as Scott Arfield midway in the attacking half. Unfortunately he mis-kicked and that allowed Lee Tomlin to get on the ball and surge forward.

Arfield went with him, Trippier came across and probably didn't help matters. The ball ran loose for Jacob Butterfield, who had been in his own penalty box when the corner was taken, to hit the ball home from the edge of the box.

1-0 was close to being 2-0 soon after when Tomlin fired wide but after that it was akin to the Alamo as Burnley laid siege at the other end.

We simply threw everything at them but somehow they survived it. There was some frantic defending in there, just as there was some frantic defending. Referee Whitestone, who constantly held up play to tell players about shirt tugging and pulling, then didn't bother when it actually happened.

I could see he'd missed one blatant penalty at the time; I saw another watching the highlights last night on television.

He wasn't strong enough either on Middlesbrough and it was astonishing that it took him over 78 minutes before any one of them was yellow carded. He then managed to yellow card Ayala twice in stoppage time for speaking out of turn and then kicking the ball away.

And when it wasn't Whitestone it was goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos. We had a Greek goalkeeper once who appeared to have eyesight problems when anything was fired at him from any distance, but this bloke got in the way of absolutely everything.

He might have punched when he should have caught and more than once he let balls spill out. A lot of his saves were made to look more difficult than they were but the one from Ross Wallace, on as a late substitute, was the best of the lot.

Barnes and Ings both missed chances, Junior Stanislas saw him get down and save a well hit shot. Jonathan Woodgate was inches from putting through his own goal and all in all we had a total of 27 shots at goal.

I can be critical and suggest we should have been better in front of goal, and at times there is no doubt we should have been. But such was our domination it is so difficult to believe we didn't get at least an equaliser if not go on to win it.

It was one of those games that, if played again and again, we would win on virtually every occasion, but yesterday was one of those occasions when it just wasn't to be.

It wasn't in the script and it wasn't in the script to see our lead over third reduced to eight points.

That's EIGHT points, not one or two. We are still unbelievable favourites to join Leicester in the Premier League next season. There's no need to panic, absolutely none at all.

Let's go and have a great day at the seaside on Friday.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Michael Kightly (Ross Wallace 80), Dean Marney, David Jones, Scott Arfield (Junior Stanislas 80), Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Chris Baird, Kevin Long, David Edgar, Keith Treacy.

Middlesbrough: Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, Jonathan Woodgate, Nathaniel Chalobah, Daniel Ayala, Grant Leadbitter, Dean Whitehead, Albert Adomah, Jacob Butterfield (Jozsef Varga 72), Lee Tomlin (Luke Williams 82), Emmanuel Ledesma, Danny Graham (Curtis Main 90), Subs not used: Jason Steele, Bryn Morris, David Atkinson, Adam Jackson.
Yellow Cards: Dean Whitehead, Daniel Ayala.
Red Card: Daniel Ayala.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).

Attendance: 16,661.