By Jack Wynne – Sports Editor
PNE suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since December last year, losing 1-0 against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Albert Adomah scored his 8th goal of the season to give Boro the lead just after the half-hour mark, skipping past Bailey Wright who lost his footing before slotting the ball under Anders Lindegaard inside the area.
PNE manager Simon Grayson made five changes from the defeat against Fulham, Marnick Vermijl, Paul Huntington and Eoin Doyle replacing Calum Woods, Tom Clarke and Jordan Hugill who all went off injured against the Cottagers.
Adam Reach was also ineligible against his parent club so in came Callum Robinson whilst Alan Browne was swapped for Daniel Johnson in midfield.
It was 22 minutes until Boro had their first effort on target, Cristhian Stuani latching onto Albert Adomah’s cross before heading the ball straight at Anders Lindegaard.
Former PNE man David Nugent almost received a gift after Lindegaard dropped the ball but Bailey Wright made an important block.
32 minutes played, Adomah broke the deadlock, capitalizing on a slip from Wright before placing the ball under the onrushing Lindegaard from inside the box.
Nugent had a golden chance to double Middlesbrough’s advantage but saw his shot saved brilliantly by Lindegaard with only the North End stopper to beat.
Six minutes into the second half, Paul Huntington glanced a header wide from inside the box after Paul Gallagher’s cross.
Grant Leadbitter curled a free-kick, which deflected narrowly wide of the post from outside the box.
Substitute Jermaine Beckford had a chance just moments after coming on, breaking clear of the Boro back line before curling a shot beyond the far post from outside the box.
Some fine build-up play from PNE was almost rounded off by Garner, hitting a fierce shot just past the post from inside the box.
67 minutes played, Dimi Konstantopoulous made an excellent save to deny Vermijl’s rifling shot flying into the top-right corner from inside the box.
Adomah had a chance to double his tally for the afternoon, Lindegaard leaping across to keep his low shot from flying in at the near post.
A minutes before the end of normal time, Adomah sprung the offside trap before hitting a tame shot straight at Lindegaard.
After the match, Grayson admitted he thought his side did more than enough to warrant at least a point out of the game.
However he was pleased with the performance, considering the amount of players missing through injury.
Middlesbrough: Dimi, Nsue, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Leadbitter, Forshaw, Stuani (Downing, 63), Ramirez (Clayton, 68), Adomah and Nugent. Subs not used: Agazzi, Rhodes, De Sart, De Laet and Kalas.
PNE: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Huntington, Wright, Cunningham, Pearson (Welsh, 60), Gallagher, Johnson, Robinson (Beckford, 60), Doyle and Garner. Subs not used: Kirkland, Smith, Kilkenny and Browne.
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Attendance: 26,390 (771 PNE fans)