Russell Martin | We showed character but gave ourselves too much to do
Russell Martin praised the second-half efforts of his young Swansea City squad at Middlesbrough, but rued the manner in which his side had left themselves with too much to do to salvage a point.
The Swans fell to defeat at the Riverside Stadium, as first-half goals from Riley McGree and Matt Crooks proved enough to give the home side the spoils.
However, the Swans had got themselves back into the game thanks to a Joel Piroe penalty and were pressing and pressing for an equaliser during a frantic finale that included a red card for Ben Cabango.
Midfielder Ollie Cooper was among those to make an impact from the bench – and the Swans side that finished the game had an average age of less than 24 – but they were unable to salvage a point.
And Martin was disappointed that – having limited Middlesbrough to just three shots on target – his side had not made more of their opportunities while their opponents had fully capitalised on theirs.
“We had started the game really well, we played with a lot of purpose and had control,” said the Swans boss.
“We make one mistake and we conceded from it, and that’s just a sign of where we are at, at the moment.
“We are getting punished for those mistakes. We have a young team and so we just had a little wobble for 10 minutes, which led to the second goal.
“But, after that, the boys could not have given us any more during that second half.
“The lads showed a willingness to run and the courage to play. We had more energy and intensity, and I felt a goal was coming before we got the penalty.
“Then Ben has made a poor decision and he has apologised in the dressing room, but the red card is not the reason we did not get something from the game because we were still the team pushing at the end.
“I felt we showed some character and guts, which is what we asked for at half-time.
“Guys like Ollie Cooper and Nathan Wood – coming back to his hometown club – were outstanding.
“We need to support the young guys better, with the experienced guys we do have on the pitch, that’s for sure.
“We have had more shots on target than Middlesbrough and looked dangerous in the second half. In the first half we did not have enough intensity in the top line of our attack, we were too safe and not prepared to take risks and did not have a willingness to run to create space for each other.
“We had more of that second half, and Joel got his goal which he deserves for the amount of work he does for the team.
“But we are just beating ourselves at the minute, we really are.”