Middlesbrough 1 Portsmouth 1: Southgate urges Boro to pull together

16 March 2009 01:48
Like every Middlesbrough player who has played at the ground, the Riverside regulars over the past 13 seasons have no problem making their presence felt and raising themselves when the big guns come to town.

But just two weeks after a deserved win over Liverpool in front of a sell-out, there were thousands of empty red seats as Gareth Southgate's plea for support fell on deaf ears.

Helping hand: Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate encourages his players during their 1-1 draw with Portsmouth.

Those who did turn out turned on their terror-stricken players after half an hour when Peter Crouch ended an eight-game run without a goal with a fine volley from Glen Johnson's cross.

Despite the tension, Stewart Downing, Tuncay and Andrew Taylor then brought good saves from David James but the atmosphere only changed following the dismissal of Matthew Bates after a second yellow card for his woeful dive to win a penalty.

 Middlesbrough 1 Portsmouth 1: All the action as it unfolded

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Southgate's brave decision to play Tuncay behind Marlon King and Afonso Alves paid off. The Turkey forward chased every pass and although he had been pretty hopeless up front, aside from a bullet header which produced James's best save, he inspired his side to the last-minute equaliser from King's only shot on target.

Southgate was at pains to point out it was not a one-man effort, asfans had chanted. 'I know I'll get slaughtered but that wasdisrespectful and hurtful to the others,' he said.

Jumping for joy: Marlon King celebrates his last-gasp equaliser that rescued a point for Boro.

The Boro boss looked shattered by the finale, his mood hardly helped by a last-second miss by £12million striker Alves.

Southgate said: 'We will only have a chance of surviving as a club and a town by everyone being together.

'In the last 20 minutes everyone played their part which is why we got a result. The players would not have found that extra energy without the crowd and that's how important it is, particularly here.

'We have to stand up and be counted and I take responsibility for everything but getting on players' backs won't help.'

Portsmouth goalkeeper James was the reason Southgate, his former room-mate, did not win three points. The Boro boss said: 'He is as good as I played with for club and country, an outstanding athlete who demands high standards from his players and coaches.

'He is a perfectionist and at his age is still very, very fit and an outstanding goalkeeper.'

James added: 'Gareth's a mate and now the game's over, I can say I hope he helps Boro stay up as well as us.'

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Jones 6; McMahon 6, Huth 6, Wheater 6, Pogatetz 5 (Taylor 46min, 7); Aliadiere 6 (A Johnson 58, 5), Arca 6 (Alves 71, 1), Bates 4, Downing 5; Tuncay 8, King 5. Booked: Bates. Sent off: Bates. PORTSMOUTH (4-5-1): James 8; G Johnson 7, Campbell 6, Distin 6, Hreidarsson 6; Pennant 5 (Belhadj 36, 6), Mullins 6, Kranjcar 8 (Pamarot 90), Davis 7, Nugent 5; Crouch 7. Booked: Belhadj, Nugent, Johnson. Man of the match: Tuncay. Referee: Martin Atkinson.

*Alves's day got worse as the striker returned home to find his house in Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, had been burgled during the game. His passport was stolen along with jewellery, computers, Brazil and Boro shirts, documents, pairs of shoes, and about £200 cash. It is believed the amount stolen and the damage caused to the house came to around £50,000.

 Middlesbrough 1 Portsmouth 1: All the action as it unfolded

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Source: Daily_Mail