Bruce regrets striker switch as Hull City lose 2-0 at Middlesbrough
STEVE Bruce accepted his portion of the blame as Hull City produced their worst performance of the season to lose 2-0 at Middlesbrough.
City were second best in every department at the Riverside as second-half goals from Faris Haroun and Ishmael Miller sent Middlesbrough up to third in the Championship.
A first defeat in three saw the Tigers surrender their position in the play-off places with a fall down to eighth.
The flat nature of City’s defeat came as a surprise to Bruce and he admitted his team selection, with Nick Proschwitz and Aaron Mclean restored to the attack, was a contributory factor.
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“I’ve got no complaints with the result, the better team won on the night,” the City boss admitted.
“It was arguably the worst we’ve played this season. It was a frustrating night because we were nowhere near it, especially given how we played on Saturday against Ipswich.
“I have to look at myself too. Did I not do enough?
“Aaron and Nick have come off the bench and done well in the last couple of games and I thought they would be full of enthusiasm.
"Unfortunately, I don’t think we did enough as a team.
“Not just them two, we didn’t do enough in general.”
City’s performance was uncharacteristically tepid after back-to-back wins had inspired a climb back into the Championship’s top six at the weekend.
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele was largely untroubled and only substitute Corry Evans’ shot against the post truly worried the home side.
Drawing their first blank in front of goal since August 25, Bruce pinpointed a lack of energy in the side as the trigger for their demise.
“What I’ve learned is that we find it a struggle with two games in three days,” he added.
“In the middle of the park Seyi Olofinjana and Paul McKenna are 32 and 34 and the overall energy of the team was nowhere near where it should be.
“The two games in three days is a difficulty and maybe I should have looked at the centre of midfield instead of the front end.
“Nothing worked for us. It’s a disappointing performance, especially after Saturday. It was nowhere near the level we’ve come to expect and we never looked a threat, apart from the last 10 minutes when it was too late.
“We gave away bad goals as well which summed up our evening. We have to go again on Saturday at Bristol City now.”
A failure to win last night extended City’s miserable away record at Middlesbrough.
A 13th defeat in 15 games on Teesside always looked on the cards as Tony Mowbray’s in-form side made all the running in their third consecutive win.
Mowbray was delighted with his side’s performance but continues to believe City will be a promotion contender come next May.
“Hull are a good side who have found a way of winning games but I felt we were the better side,” said Mowbray. “It was a good win because they’ll be up there at the end of the year.”