Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder saw his side take a point at Stoke (Richard Sellers/PA)
11 December 2021

Chris Wilder felt Middlesbrough could have won close encounter at Stoke

11 December 2021

Chris Wilder believes Middlesbrough could have nicked a third successive Sky Bet Championship victory at Stoke and might have done so but for Duncan Watmore’s early miss.

Watmore’s glaring 15th-minute error proved pivotal, although a draw between two sides with play-off ambitions was probably the right result.

Stoke star Tyrese Campbell will also feel guilty he did not convert his own opportunity in a lively opening period.

The second half, however, was disappointing in comparison leaving Boro manager Wilder and City counterpart Michael O’Neill to contemplate what might have been.

“You will talk about that missed chance and he would have been expected to score,” said Wilder of Watmore’s close-range effort that finished up hitting the back of the former Sunderland forward.

“But it wasn’t to be and they also missed a decent chance through Campbell.

“I enjoyed watching my team come into the backyard of a team who will be no doubt in the play-offs, and we have gone toe-to-toe with them.

“Overall, our performance was good and on another day we might have shaded a win in a tight game. We came to a side, who I said previously, was potentially the hardest match we had faced.

“However, the greedy part of me says we should have won it,” added Wilder. “I don’t think it was a backs against the wall performance. We never felt we were massively under the cosh.

“I thought we dictated the flow and tempo of the game. When we had to defend, we defended properly in numbers.

“But it wasn’t a dig in, defensive performance. We weren’t playing an average Championship side.

“This is a really strong Championship side which had a lot of years in the Premier League who want to get back there.”

Both keepers, Adam Davies and Joe Lumley, enjoyed quiet afternoons, although the Stoke goalie saved well from Andraz Sporar while Lumley turned away a Mario Vrancic shot, deflected goalwards by Campbell’s boot.

Stoke boss O’Neill said: “It was always going to be that type of game. Middlesbrough are a good side with good players and obviously Chris is having an impact since he has gone in there.

“It was a game of few chances and our systems cancelled each other out. We both had good chances in the first half and neither of us took them.

“In the second half, it was difficult for either team to make any chances. We couldn’t find that bit of quality.

“We made them turn the ball over maybe 10 or 11 times in the first half. We broke from there and that’s where our opportunities came from.

“It was similar to the opportunity he (Campbell) took at QPR. But we couldn’t find that bit of quality. However, we will take a point though I never felt we were going to lose.

“It was that type of game where a goal might have come from a free-kick or set-piece.

“We looked a bit leggy in the second half but pleased with another clean sheet. But I hoped we could impose ourselves more on the game in that first 15 minutes.”

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