Agnew remains upbeat despite Boro's latest setback

By Simon Evans

By Simon Evans

MIDDLESBROUGH, England (Reuters) - Middlesbrough manager Steve Agnew felt his relegation-threatened team deserved victory against Burnley on Saturday but insisted they still had "all to play for" despite the disappointing goalless draw at the Riverside.

"I thought the lads were terrific in terms of their effort and commitment, and I thought we deserved to win the game," said Agnew whose team remain next to bottom and six points behind 17th-placed Hull City.

After creating little in the opening half, Boro created several chances in the latter stages with Burnley defender Matt Lowton clearing off the line and keeper Tom Heaton forced into a fine save to foil a spectacular effort from Alvaro Negredo.

"I think the chances came in the second half,” said Agnew. “Alvaro had the over-head kick and there was Stewy Downing’s free kick that was going in but cleared off the line.

"You have to give Stewy credit, he stood up and did everything he could’ve done. That’s the quality that he and the rest of the players have. It was a game that we’re disappointed to not have won," said Agnew who took over when Spanish coach Aitor Karanka was sacked last month.

Boro were upset that their substitute Patrick Bamford, who spent the first half of this season on loan at Burnley, was brought down by Michael Keane when through on goal but referee Martin Atkinson only produced a yellow card.

"He had a bit of a point to prove having not played much at Burnley and I think on another day if he’d have stayed on his feet and it hadn’t have been a free kick then he was through on goal”

Agnew remained upbeat about his team.

"We are six off it, with a game extra to play and so, all to play and still positive," he said.

"We pushed and pushed and couldn’t give any more....not to get a goal today was disappointing, we deserved one," he added.

The Teessider's face Arsenal at home on Easter Monday and Agnew said that he was looking forward to regrouping and getting players back from injury.

“We have had three games in six days and the players have taken a lot of information on board and now it gives us a chance to reflect on what we have done and what we need to continue to work on. So I am encouraged by lots of things I saw today," he said, adding that Uruguayan playmaker Gaston Ramirez and Brazilian defender Fabio were both close to returning from injury.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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