A disappointed Gary Forster gave his take on a thrilling Boxing Day stalemate.
The ten men of Redcar left Middlesbrough with a point to boot, but for the Steelmen boss, it perhaps should have been more.
Athletic drew first blood under the bitter winter sun, as Donny Holdsworth poked home from a goalmouth scramble.
His efforts were marred seconds after the restart, as a dubious penalty saw Danny Lofts restore parity, before Joe Ferguson was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
A pinpoint delivery from the lively Layton Watts offered Lewis Ritson the chance to open his account in red and navy, beating bodies on the line with a towering header.
Boro Rangers again pegged back the spirited Steelmen, once more through Danny Lofts, as a series of possible fouls left a gaping hole through the heart of defence, and the forward provided the simple finish to match.
A point on the road against a well-drilled outfit, emotions amongst the Redcar camp were somewhat mixed come the final whistle.
For first team boss Gary Forster, the draw served its purpose in stopping the rot, but perhaps should have been more as to the innate ability of his squad.
They are a good side, Boro Rangers, so it is always tough to come here. They’re certainly good at home.
I think, with no disresepct to anyone, we should be coming and winning games of football like that.
It’s a good surface, there’s no wind… it should suit our footballers.
I think it was important that we didn’t get beat today.
I have a little thing: we don’t lose three in a row. We’d lost two, but we’ve managed to pick up a draw.
I think a bit of poor defending at the end has cost us the game though.
WHERE IS IT GOING WRONG?
A league campaign touted as superlative in a summer frenzy, the Steelmen sit a mere 14th in the table, four games in pursuit of another elusive victory.
The mediocrity prompts a question for most of a Redcar persuasion: ‘where is it going wrong?’
Where the boss has previously cited extensive summer business, Forster questioned service to his attackers at Phoenix Park, whilst lambasting mistakes made by the match officials.
Lots of things (are going wrong).
We’ve got to move the ball into good areas quicker, to give the forwards that we’ve got at the club more opportunities.
We changed shape to do that today.
I thought we started bright, and, in the first half at least, we were good.
Second half, I think the referee has killed us.
I thought the referee on Saturday, although he made a couple of bad decisions, was excellent, so I don’t like to slag referees off.
The penalty can’t be given, it’s a deflection off a defender.
Fergie has pulled out of his tackle, and if people start getting yellows for pulling out of tackles, then they start going through tackles, and people start to get hurt.
That’s not what anybody wants.
The Steelmen have one last scheduled opportunity to turn the tide of their season in 2023, a trip to high-flying Birtley Town, but improving fortunes may have to go down as a New Year’s resolution for the impending 2024.