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Michael O’Neill hails Stoke character after win over Middlesbrough

Sheffield Wednesday v Stoke City – Sky Bet Championship – Hillsborough Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill praised the character of his side after holding on to a 1-0 win at home to Middlesbrough.

Nathan Collins headed Stoke ahead after 19 minutes and Boro’s best chance came when George Saville hit the post after 39 minutes.

“It was a competitive game today and we had to make three subs due to injury,”  said O’Neill.

“The most important thing was that we were still strong enough to defend our lead.

“We had chances at the end to kill it off and looked a threat on the break.

“We defended well and it is a good three points.

“The teams were very competitive today, but that is the nature of this league.

“It is pleasing that the younger players stood up and dealt with the physical side of the game to see it out.

“Our team was disrupted by the subs due to injuries, but we showed great character to see the game out.

“Our squad is stretched now. I don’t think the challenges deserved more than a yellow card. We just came out of it on the wrong side of things.

“It was a very physical game as many games are in this league, it was just the nature of the game.

“Boro will have come here knowing a win put them above us, so it was important we tried to stop their momentum and pick points up ourselves.

“There will be a lot of games like that to the end of the season.”

Boro boss Neil Warnock admitted his side had lacked the necessary quality.

“I thought the players gave me everything,” he said.

“I’m disappointed with the goal we conceded. There wasn’t communication and we should have stopped the ball coming in and not left the man unmarked.

“Apart from that we lacked quality in the final third, but I think both teams did.

“Once Stoke went in front they defended well and with men behind the ball so we needed something special to unlock them.

“We just weren’t good enough today but I can’t fault the effort.”

But Warnock was left fuming at what he saw as a ‘disgraceful’ dressing room.

“We were in a pig sty around the corner here,” he added.

“We had fumes coming in the dressing room and had to get the maintenance men out. The toilets didn’t work, we give them everything at our place.

“The showers were leaking and there’s water everywhere. It is a disgrace today

“There is no way we will give them a dressing room when they come up to our place.

“You shouldn’t be made to change in a place like that, it was freezing and out of order.”