Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate questioned referee Darren England’s decision to allow Nottingham Forest striker Lewis Grabban’s late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at the Riverside Stadium.
Boro remain in the relegation zone, a point adrift of Stoke City, after Grabban’s 86th-minute goal earned a point for promotion-chasing Forest on a night when they struggled to get going.
Woodgate, whose side are now winless in 12 matches since New Year’s Day, was left gutted by the decision to allow the equaliser knowing his side could have finished the night 19th in the Sky Bet Championship.
England didn’t think Grabban, with his back to goal, had done anything wrong when he cleverly fended off goalkeeper Aynsley Pears to flick in was his 17th goal of the season.
There were boos and criticism of the decision and Woodgate can see why.
He said: “Nine out of 10 times that goal doesn’t count so I thought it was a bad decision from the referee. If you look at any contact on the goalkeeper it’s given.
“He backs in, he looked where he was and he put his arm across his chest, he didn’t get nowhere near it, it was a foul in my view and in 19,000 people’s eyes it’s a foul.
“We showed character and determination from every single player to get on the ball tonight, even if it’s tough, get on the ball and try to make things happen.
“We went down to 1-0 and it’s tough but your players bounce back and I thought we deserved to win the game.”
On remaining in the relegation zone, Woodgate added: “Well we are there, the table says it at the minute. That could be an important point for us, that could be a really important point for us going forward.”
Grabban’s equaliser arrived in the final stages when Forest pushed on, having allowed Middlesbrough to come from behind to lead.
Rudy Gestede’s back-post header in the 40th minute cancelled out Ryan Yates’ brilliant 22-yard opener 12 minutes earlier.
Middlesbrough went in front four minutes later when Lewis Wing made the most of a fine counter-attack before Grabban’s late intervention for fourth-place Forest.
Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi disagreed with Woodgate’s assessment of Grabban’s effort.
He said: “I am not happy with the way we played, it was the wrong night.
“But there was no foul, easily, for the goal. I saw the replay just now, this was not a foul. Grabban doesn’t touch the keeper. He was not offside. For me it was not a foul. And we deserved to score anyway.
“We started the right way, we scored, but after the goal we made more mistakes. We played in the wrong way, technical mistakes, the mentality was wrong. Their second goal, you can’t concede from a counter-attack.
“I was happy with the last 10 or 15 minutes, with more intensity. When we play simple, with intensity, we create more situations and we deserved to score more than one or two.”