Defeat frustrates Southgate

03 March 2008 03:42
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate's only target this season is to avoid relegation to the Championship. Boro have an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Cardiff City to look forward to but, after losing to Reading at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, Southgate knows his side's relegation fears have not yet been banished. He said: "We had a chance to lift ourselves out of it. The gap could have been ten points but it isn't. "Anyone from ourselves down is conscious of what's going on around the league and, as good a run as we've had, we've still got to grind and scrap it out. "Saturday's result won't change the way we prepare for the cup tie. We'll still train the way we planned to. We've got to deal with this disappointment. We've got a chance to get into an FA Cup semi-final but the league's our priority. "The cup is fantastic and it got us on a run of unbeaten games and a decent run of form but it had a slightly negative affect on Saturday. A lot of the players ran 15km on Wednesday night. That gave Reading a physical advantage. "We had chances but we had tired finishing, or tired crosses or tired final balls. In the previous cup games we've been able to leave people out to rest them and keep them fresh. "We tried to do it with Tuncay against Sheffield United and I thought he looked bright and fresh against Reading. There were two or three I'd have liked to have rested on Saturday but weren't able to."

Source: ESA