Boss “disappointed for the players” after deflected Patrick Bamford strike seals victory for Sky Bet Championship leaders.
- “I’m proud of the players and disappointed for them with the result” – Mackay.
- Scot frustrated as honest group miss out on more points in fight for survival.
- Pleased to get James McClean back.
Latics manager Malky Mackay spoke of his pride in his players after they fell to their first defeat in five games on the road as Sky Bet Championship leaders Middlesbrough ran out 1-0 winners at the Riverside Stadium on Good Friday.
Patrick Bamford’s deflected strike proved the difference in North Yorkshire as Latics rued missed chances from Marc-Antoine Fortuné, James McClean and Jermaine Pennant in their pursuit of an equaliser.
And, though Mackay accepts that scoring is the most important part of winning games, the manager felt his side did everything-but against Aitor Karanka’s side.
“I’m really proud of the players; I’ve spoken to the back four, and it’s a winning performance from them, the midfielders as well, they put a power of work in and, overall, the whole team did,” Mackay explained.
“It’s just about putting the ball in their net and we had three or four chances in the second-half in and around their goal, along with the one that Marco makes their keeper make the save, but we’ve got to test their goalkeeper.
“When we come up here and turn in a performance like that against a team that looks as if they’re going to be promoted, it makes me really disappointed for the players because they deserved something out of that today.”
On-loan Chelsea striker Bamford bagged his 17th goal of a fine season for table-topping Boro with his shot, which was on target, deflecting off Jason Pearce to beat Ali Al Habsi.
And Mackay says with six games to go, he’s disappointed for his honest group of players.
“I think Ali had the shot covered and then it’s deflected in and then we have chances of our own that don’t go in so it’s a bit of a story of the whole season with us not being able to put the ball into the net.
“The group that are here now are putting a power of work in but not getting the rewards that they should be out of a game.
“What is really frustrating is that we’re running out of games and we’ve got a group of players here now that are full of honesty, aggression and athleticism and are matching most teams but it’s having someone to stick the ball in the net and it’s the teams at the top that have those players.
“We’ve got six to go, Millwall won today but the gap has stayed the same to safety. Derby will be tough, we can match them and if we get the rub of the green then maybe we can get a result.”
One major positive for Latics was the return of McClean, who missed our previous two games due to suspension, and Mackay was full of praise for the Republic of Ireland international.
“I thought James was sensational again today, especially in the second-half after I’d asked him to do a job for me up-front in the first,” Mackay continued.
“He went out on the left in the second-half and really terrorised their full back with his effort, his energy and the balls he’s putting in, it was good to get him back.”