BORO boss Aitor Karanka felt his side missed out on a big chance at Watford in Saturday’s Championship clash at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets took the lead through a Troy Deeney penalty five minutes into the second half, only to be reduced to 10 men soon after when Samba Diakite was sent off for a two-footed challenge.
However, the red card count was quickly levelled up when Boro defender Ben Gibson was dismissed for a second booking.
Gibson received his second yellow card for trying to prevent goalkeeper Jonathan Bond from clearing his lines and Karanka also had no complaints about the decision.
He said: “I didn’t see it, but it’s a mistake.
“When you have one yellow card, you can’t do this. You need to be more intelligent and we lost the game for our mistakes.
“We were losing but we were one man more – and I thought with the three subs I had made, we could change the score but five minutes later Gibson was sent off and the game was very, very difficult.
“The problem is the mistakes. Today and in other games, we didn’t do the good things.”
This was Boro’s fifth consecutive game without scoring and asked about the lack of goals, Karanka replied: “Sometimes it can be luck but sometimes it’s because you didn’t do everything to score goals and when you don’t do those things, it’s more difficult.”
Watford took the lead from the penalty spot in the 50th minute as Deeney calmly stroked home his 14th goal of the season after Gibson had brought down Fernando Forestieri from behind.
Within two minutes though, the Hornets were down to 10 men as Diakite marked his full debut since joining on loan from QPR by being shown a straight red card by referee Oliver Langford for jumping into a challenge on former Sunderland midfielder Dean Whitehead two-footed.
That should have swung the momentum in Boro’s favour as they went in search of an equaliser, only for Gibson to ensure his side’s numerical advantage in terms of players was cancelled out in the 57th minute.
Having already been booked in the first half, the Boro centre-half foolishly tried to prevent Bond from taking a clearance and the official had no hesitation in showing him a second yellow card.
Middlesbrough pressed for the equaliser but they were fortunate not to go 2-0 down when Watford countered with substitute Ikechi Anya’s pace.
He got away from Whitehead but, as the Scotland international closed in on Shay Given’s goal, he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
The visitors’ best chance of equalising came in stoppage time when a cross from the left was headed back into the danger zone by Leadbitter, but Danny Graham could not get enough power on his header to beat Bond.
Watford: Bond, Cassetti, Angella, Doyley (Hoban 46), Faraoni (Anya 64), Diakite, Murray, Tozser, Pudil, Deeney, Forestieri (Battocchio 71). Subs not used: Bellerin, Merkel, Park, Woods. Sent Off: Diakite (52). Booked: Cassetti, Forestieri. Goals: Deeney 50 pen.
Middlesbrough: Given, Varga (Main 73), Woodgate (Kamara 84), Gibson, Friend, Ledesma (Carayol 46), Leadbitter, Chalobah, Whitehead, Adomah, Graham. Subs not used: Butterfield, Konstantopoulos, Hines, Omeruo. Sent Off: Gibson (57). Booked: Gibson, Chalobah.
Att: 15,391. Ref: Oliver Langford (W Midlands).