TONY Mowbray admits that a lack of goals has ultimately scuppered his side’s play-off aspirations – although the Middlesbrough boss hasn’t given up all hope on gatecrashing the top six.
Boro laboured to a 0-0 draw against relegated Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night as they missed the chance to keep pace with sixth-placed Cardiff City, whose 2-0 win over Derby County moved them four points clear of the Riversiders with two games remaining.
Tomorrow sees Southampton on Teesside (kick off 5.20pm) with the Saints needing a win to guarantee successive promotions and a return to the Premier League.
Mowbray is still in rueful mood following his side’s latest blank.
“It’s a huge disappointment not to get three points against a relegated team at home,” he said. “It’s indicative of the season.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to score more goals. Of all the teams at the top end of the season we haven’t scored enough goals and we have to try to put that right next season.
“Look at all the teams in the top half of the table and they have 70-odd goals and we’ve scored 49. They are the harsh realities.
“When the chances come along you have to put the ball in the net and tonight once again we haven’t managed to do that.”
Boro have one of the best away records in the league and the total of 10 victories has only been beaten a couple of times in their entire history.
But it’s been a very different story at the Riverside where they’ve toasted maximum points on just seven occasions this season.
Mowbray went on: “We can make life difficult for the opposition away from home and nick a goal on the break, which is what we did at Derby (won 1-0).
“On Tuesday there were opportunities late on to get a win but we’ve always talked about the fine margins of this game.”
Wins for Cardiff, Blackpool and Birmingham City on Saturday would end Boro’s play-off dreams before their tea-time kick-off against Southampton.
But Mowbray is trying to remain optimistic.
“It’s not all over yet, we need to win two games and see what the other teams do,” he said.
“We’ve got two games to go, it’s been a long, long season and we’ve got Southampton and from what I’m hearing they’re bringing a lot of supporters for what they hope will be a promotion party.
“We’ve got to concentrate and make life difficult for them. Let’s see if we can stick the ball in their net.”