Monk rues defensive error as Birmingham lose to Middlesbrough
Birmingham manager Garry Monk was left to rue a costly defensive lapse as his side slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against an improving Middlesbrough.
Lewis Wing opened the scoring with a neat 37th-minute goal for the visitors but Birmingham hit back thanks to Che Adams’ 79th-minute equaliser, only for Boro to pick themselves up three minutes later and win it through substitute Britt Assombalonga.
It was only Birmingham’s second Championship home defeat in 19 games and Monk admitted it was a tough result to take.
The former Middlesbrough manager, who only had half a season in the north east, said: ‘When the team sheets came out and we saw they had four defenders and five in midfield, we were fully aware they would be a difficult team to break down.
‘In the first half we got caught up with some of the decisions which were constantly happening. The tempo of the game was not what we wanted.
‘With the quality they have they defend very well and are difficult to play against. But I thought we were fantastic in the second half, when the character of the lads was outstanding when we pushed for the equaliser.
‘Unfortunately for us we should have dealt with a simple ball through the middle and we were punished when they scored the winner.
‘It was very harsh on the players to play so well and get nothing from the game.’
It was a vital win for Boro, who had been forced to operate a second-half rearguard battle to keep out a determined Birmingham side unfortunate not to collect a point for their performance.
And boss Tony Pulis was delighted with the victory which keeps Boro within striking distance of the top two in the Championship.
He said: ‘We were by far the better team in the first half. I know we should have had two penalties in the first half so instead of being one up at half-time we should have been three up at least.
‘In the second half they played very direct. I’ve nothing against that because that is the way they play. They have two good forwards, Adams and (Lukas) Jutkiewicz, up there and they put us under enormous pressure.
‘We defended extremely well and when they equalised it was going to be tough. But it was a terrific through ball from Wing and Assombalonga finished with aplomb.
‘Winning so well away from home shows the character of the team. We had to show it in the second half when we had to dig in against some determined opposition.
‘It was a great response to hit back with the winning goal so quickly after Birmingham had equalised.’