Southgate accept blame for shock exit

September 20, 2006

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate accepted the blame for his side's shock Carling Cup exit after Notts County pulled off a shock on Teesside.

The 35-year-old rested eight of the men who started Saturday's Barclays Premiership clash with Bolton, and saw them defeated by Congo-born striker Tcham N'Toya's 26th-minute strike.

Southgate, who lifted the trophy as Boro skipper in 2004, was disappointed to have seen his side humbled by the Coca-Cola League Two outfit, but was swift to take responsibility.

He said: 'It is not a competition I wanted to go out of, and obviously I have to take responsibility because I put a team out with lots of changes, but a team I felt was good enough to win the match.

'I still think it was good enough to win the match, but unfortunately on the night, we were not able to do that.

'We got punished for one mistake and we did not play well enough. I do not think we were patient enough until the last 15 minutes or so where we ended up bombarding them.

'It is very disappointing. It is a competition I wanted to be in, but we are out of it.

'That is cup football and it is Notts County's night.'

Southgate handed a debut to £6million signing Robert Huth and also had Spaniard Gaizka Mendieta and strike duo Mark Viduka and Massimo Maccarone in his starting line-up.

However, despite a late flurry during which Stuart Parnaby clipped the crossbar and Huth saw an effort saved at point-blank range by keeper Saul Deeney, County, who themselves made seven changes, survived.

Southgate said: 'To be fair, Notts County made seven changes - we were not the only ones - and it paid off for them.

'But of course, we are a Premier League team and we should beat a second division side.'

County boss Steve Thompson was thrilled to have finally overcome his north-east hoodoo.

He said: 'When I managed Sheffield United, we got to the semi-final of the FA Cup and lost to Newcastle at Old Trafford.

'There is something about the north-east for me. I lost to Newcastle in the semi-final of the cup and I lost to Sunderland in the play-offs in the same season, so it is nice to come to the north-east and finally get a win.

'It is terrific. I am pleased for the players. They have worked their socks off.

'We came here and we left six behind down in Notts. A lot of players had not played, and I just think they epitomised what we have done since we have been here, the team spirit, the team arrangement, the work ethic.

'I thought we were good value. We came under a lot of pressure in the last five or six minutes, and every player died for the cause.

'It was a terrific effort from the players.'

Thompson was particularly pleased with his match-winner, who proved a handful throughout and took his chance with some aplomb.

He said: 'He is strong, he is quick, he is a bit unpredictable. A manager said to me, 'He could either win you the European Cup - which I do not think we will get to - or lose you the Sunday Cup final'.

'Well tonight, he has won a Carling Cup match for us and I am pleased for the lad.'