“Heartbreaking” loss for Smith

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray blamed his side’s slack
defending for the 2-1 home defeat to Millwall.

The Teessiders slipped out of the play-off places after George
Friend headed into his own net and Martyn Woolford converted a
simple chance.

Boro staged a fightback after the restart and Curtis Main pulled
one back before having a second goal ruled out for offside in
stoppage time.

“They were poor, poor goals for us to concede from a defensive
point of view,” Mowbray said. “We made it very difficult for
ourselves.

“We gave Millwall something to hold onto and then we had to try
and break them down and we couldn’t do that. We had chances to get
back into it but we didn’t take them.

“We didn’t get the luck but we can’t keep saying that. It is
down to us to win football matches.

“Of course we are very disappointed and of course it has an
effect on confidence. And of course it is very frustrating for the
supporters here who have seen these results over the past few
weeks.

“But do we still believe we can make the play-offs? Of course we
do. We know we have what it takes and that we just need to stay
strong as a group and keep doing the things we did that won us 11
home games and got us in the top six in the first place.”

Cody McDonald headed the only goal of the game as the League Two
leaders set a new club record of 11 away wins this season.

Cook said: “We huffed and puffed and we did okay and certainly
in the second half I thought we could have gone on and win the game
but unfortunately for us it just didn’t happen.

“I can’t fault the effort or application and we created two or
three chances but it’s obvious that we are not scoring enough
goals. I thought we did our best and we knew it was going to be
difficult because of the way Gillingham set up but we lacked a bit
of quality.

“While it’s physically possible we will move heaven and earth to
do our best but it looks to be too much of an ask at the minute but
as a manager you have to keep believing.”

Cody McDonald’s second half header was enough to secure the
points against Chesterfield and keep Gillingham at the top of
League Two.

“It’s a fantastic performance all-round from the squad,” Allen
said. “The great thing is there are so many players who can go in
and play.

“We defend as a team and we attack as a team. We played one or
two touch football, moved the ball about and though it was a bit
scary in the last 20 minutes, we’ve seen it a million times. When
we defend in numbers we are strong and we are not left open.

“It’s a victory for the club and it’s an historical day to be
honest for the club, the players, supporters, chairman and to be
manager and get this record makes me very proud.

“Breaking a record of 100 years is fantastic. Deon Burton came
in at the end and said ‘well done lads, we’ve made history’ and
that’s all we spoke about. To be the squad and part of the club
when we made history is quite amazing.”

Alex earned their second win at the Ricoh Arena this month as
substitute Max Clayton scored with his first touch.

Leon Clarke had earlier given Coventry a 12th-minute lead that
lasted just four minutes thanks to a Mark Ellis volley.

Davis said: “It was a bit scrappy in parts but we came here with
a plan again and I thought we wanted to go as long as we could,
keeping them out.

“Obviously the early goal was a set back but I always felt we
could score from something.

“The game was fairly even. It was a bit of a battle and scrap
and that’s maybe the result of playing each other four times.

“I think that makes a difference. You know each other
player-wise and although we tried to change the shape it is still
difficult because our paths have crossed three times already so it
was difficult.”

Crewe keeper Steve Phillips was man-of-the-match on his last
visit to the Ricoh Arena and enjoyed himself again.

“He made two or three important saves, as we expect him to do
because that’s what he is there for,” added Davis.

While the message to Clayton was clear. Davis said: “I told him
to go out there and score the winning goal. It’s nice when you have
a talented 18-year-old to bring on and get you a goal.”

Magnus Okuonghae cancelled out Max Power’s early opener but then
it was all Rovers, with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Ash Taylor and Cole
Stockton scoring before Michael O’Halloran netted from the
spot.

The U’s are three points adrift of safety in the relegation zone
following their heaviest home defeat of the season.

Dunne said: “It was very disappointing for us but we have to
respond.

“The goals we gave away were very poor and we were second best
all over the pitch. We didn’t deserve to get anything out of the
game.

“Tranmere’s first goal was a cracking goal but our equaliser got
us back in the game.

“I thought we were okay at that point but a poor defensive
mix-up cost us, because it was a basic error.

“The timing of the goal really hurt us and put us in a difficult
situation.

“It was a collapse in the second half and I’ve told my players
what I think of it.

“We can’t make the mistakes we made defensively and not expect
to get punished.

“We have a young changing room in there and there are a few of
us who have lost 5-1 in there before but we have to respond – we
can’t get downhearted.”

James Dunne’s scorching volley put Boro in front but former
Wales international Paul Parry had the hosts level by the break
before Marvin Morgan, on as a late substitute, converted a cross
from Jon Taylor to seal victory for the Shrews five minutes from
time.

A brilliant stoppage-time save from goalkeeper Chris Weale
denied Stevenage skipper Mark Roberts an equaliser.

Boro have now lost four successive games and Smith, disappointed
that two strong penalty claims were rejected in the second half,
said: “To take the lead again and to lose the game was
heartbreaking to say the least.

“I thought we controlled the opening 15 minutes and on
possession and territorial advantage we maybe deserved to get a
goal and it was a great strike again from James. It was a really
positive start to a tough away game.

“I was very disappointed with the equaliser. Shrewsbury had had
few moments around our penalty area and the first real chance
they’ve scored. Parry hits a good strike but it should never get to
that point.

“We were quite happy moving into the second period and it again
showed that we’re capable and there’s still plenty to play for.

“Really and truly we should have been given the opportunity to
go in front but the referee was a big factor in that because it’s
his decision and choice whether or not the two calls are right.
Only on replays will I be able to tell you that.”

Smith, admitting his side’s run of defeats was a concern, added:
“We have to somehow find a result that tips the scales the other
way. We’ve got enough quality in the side to be turning results
around in a far better fashion. There’s no doubts about it.”