10 April 2023

Michael Carrick admits he was about to substitute Matt Crooks before equaliser

10 April 2023

Michael Carrick admitted he was about to substitute Matt Crooks before the striker fired the 64th-minute equaliser that earned Middlesbrough a 2-2 draw at Bristol City.

Sam Bell fired the hosts ahead from a Harry Cornick pass in first-half stoppage time and Cornick doubled the advantage with a close-range finish four minutes into the second half.

But Boro stormed back to level, Aaron Ramsey heading home from a Tommy Smith cross on 58 minutes and Crooks firing low past Max O’Leary six minutes later.

Both sides could have won it in a frantic finish. Boro substitute Cameron Archer had the ball in the net just before the final whistle, but was denied by a linesman’s flag for offside.

Carrick said: “I thought Matt had given his all and was about to make changes when he scored.

“He is a very important player for us, as is Aaron Ramsey and their goals showed the character we have, which will be needed in the games ahead.

“I am more pleased with the way we fought back than the result. It was a tough game and showed again how hard it is to earn points in the Championship.

“We played some really good football and the overall performance pleased me. It is just the fine details that are costing us and we need to work on them.

“After Matt’s goal I thought we would go on to win it. Cameron Archer’s finish at the end was fantastic, but apparently he was just offside.

“It’s important that the team never know when they are beaten and they showed that quality in not losing heart at two goals down.”

City boss Nigel Pearson said: “We played well and I’m disappointed for the players that we didn’t take all three points because they put a lot of effort in.

“There first goal came from us not tracking runners and the second because we made a poor decision in not clearing the ball into row Z.

“We brought in Harry Cornick for his work-rate and because he gives us a different style of striker. Today he has scored a goal and registered an assist.

“We know there are areas in which we need to strengthen. Middlesbrough are a very good side and they probably also think they could have won.

“Our squad is not far away from being able to challenge for play-off places. We have been too inconsistent at times this season and we still have problems getting the balance right.

“We need to be harder to beat. Successful sides are built on being solid at the back, but we have gone from being a side without an identity to one that is very energetic and play with a lot of honesty.”

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