TONY Mowbray is looking for his confidence-shorn Middlesbrough side to score the first goal against seventh-placed Nottingham Forest tonight.
Boro are now just six points above the relegation places in the Championship, with the play-off berths eight points away.
Boro’s changing focus owes as much to their dismal form as it does to the tightness of the Championship but Mowbray still insists that his side’s failings are not entirely representative of their performances.
“I think generally over the course of the games, team performance levels are very similar to the first half of the season,” he said ahead of the game with Billy Davies’ Forest.
“But we aren’t taking our opportunities, not shooting when we can.
“22 different footballers scored before Christmas and now we are searching for anyone to score a goal for us.”
Although Mowbray refuses to discuss any suggestion of a looming relegation scrap in the remaining four games, a return of just eight points out of a possible 51 in 2013 has been a dreadful slump.
He went on: “If we can win a game in this next week or two it will give everyone a lift. I’ve watched Forest a few times and they’ve got a lot of intensity about the way they play.
“They’ve got an impressive squad, a highly-expensive squad. They’ve got some very good players. It’s another very tough game.
“Let’s see if we can get our noses in front and make life difficult for them. We know we can give Forest problems.”
e“We need a break in front of goal, take one of our chances and see how they react.
“We have to try and find that first goal, give ourselves a chance to win that football match. Four games to go, let’s see if we can get back to wining ways.”
Ishmael Miller is unavailable as he cannot play against his parent club whilst Grant Leadbitter is injured.