THE EARLY GOAL scored by Middlesbrough on Saturday was a massive blow and changed the shape of the game. Boro played well and, if anything, played a little bit more like the away team. Once they got the goal they were very solid in midfield and most of the chances were when they caught us on the break.
The fact we went behind so early meant we had to push forward in search of an equaliser and they nearly capitalised on that.
There are lots of statistics to emerge from our away games, although I don't think our performances have been a problem. We haven't been as free-flowing on the goalscoring side as we have been at home, but we have certainly conceded less goals than we have in the past.
We are quite solid away but, in being a tight unit, we have perhaps found it difficult to score the amount of goals we want or need to. It probably is a psychological thing when we go behind away from home but that is the norm. It always is psychological when any team plays away - otherwise they would win as many as they do at home.
When you are going through a really good spell you can take that away with you but the fact that our form has been up and down in this last period meant we were not in our best patch of away form.
Martin said after the game that not enough of our players were on top of their game - like against Aston Villa - and I would go along with that. After Villa you were assessing good offensive performances that led to us scoring goals. Away from home you are looking for more and we didn't have enough of them.
The team were very low after the game and, in a funny way, that is a good thing. It meant an awful lot to all of us, getting into a position to qualify for Europe. Certainly we still have a chance, but we knew we were going into a game that offered a better opportunity.
The fact that the lads took it quite badly shows what it means to them and we hope it drives them on to wanting more and more every year.
Back on the training ground after a period of consideration, coach Chris Hughton offers his thoughts on the weekend setback at Middlesbrough...