Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate admits the job of escaping relegation has become more difficult after the 1-0 defeat at Stoke but he has not given up hope.
Ryan Shawcross' third goal of the season six minutes from time ensured Boro remain struggling in 19th place in the Barclays Premier League. Rory Delap's long right-wing throw into the penalty area was perfectly directed and the centre-back escaped his marker, ran in front of three defenders and glanced a header into the far corner of the net.
At the end of the match Southgate had to endure abuse from the visiting supporters on his walk to the tunnel but said: "It is irrelevant how I am, it is about keeping this club in the division. I accept there is going to be anger. I knew if we won we would be applauded off and if we lost I'd get a load of abuse."
He added: "You accept that is part and parcel of the job in the modern world. We have to take that.
"We are where we are over 30 games because that is where we deserve to be.
"I'm not going to hide from that. We have eight games to save ourselves and it is possible.
"It is a huge ask now as today was a huge blow to us but teams have got out of this situation before and we have to take hope from that."
Stoke probably edged the game in terms of the few chances created but Boro had opportunities of their own but were undone when the defence switched off late in the game.
"I felt we deserved something from the game but we haven't taken anything from it," added Southgate.
"What we feel we might have deserved is irrelevant. We have defended extremely well for the majority of the game, we have caused them problems in the way we passed the ball and we have had chances to win it."
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