Palace 1 Middlesbrough 0: Darren Ambrose's hot streak adds to Gordon Strachan's woes

With the likes of Newcastle and West Brom setting the pace in the Championship, Gordon Strachan will know his side need to win these sort of games if they are to achieve promotion at the first attempt.

This defeat saw Middlesbrough drift further away from the play-off places thanks to Darren Ambrose’s composed strike midway through the second half and some wonderful goalkeeping by Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

Strachan watched his side miss some glorious chances, especially as they pushed for an equaliser, but he refused to bemoan any lack of luck.

He said: 'You have chances in the game and if you don’t take them then you have a problem.

'If you make chances like that and have fantastic opportunities – we even had a four on one opportunity at one point – that’s nothing to do with luck.'

Crystal Palace's Darren Ambrose scores the opening goal

In fine fettle: Ambrose

Ambrose and Speroni are increasingly emerging as Neil Warnock’s key players, with the former now having scored in four consecutive games and the Argentinian stopper labelled by his manager as ‘the best goalkeeper in the league’.

The visitors came into the clash as the league’s top scorers on the road by were continually denied by Speroni, with Warnock joking afterwards that it was ‘just an average game for him’.

After a scrappy first half that created hardly any opportunities of note, the visitors really should have taken the lead ten minutes after the re-start when Leroy Lita selfishly went for glory when he had three players unmarked in support.

They were undone by a moment of suicidal defending on 65 minutes when Neil Danns rose above the isolated Gavin Hoyte to help on Alan Lee’s hopeful long ball to Ambrose, who took a touch and slotted home with ease.

'I was so pleased it fell to him,' reflected Warnock after watching his side win their first game in six. 'I looked up and I thought, ‘oh good it’s him’ – he’s full of confidence.'

He added: 'When I arrived he was low on confidence. I think he needs a certain type of manager and we make a good pair at the minute.'

Middlesbrough pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages, but much to Strachan’s annoyance Speroni athletically denied David Wheater and then Gary O’Neil after the former Portsmouth man was put through on goal.

Substitute Jonathan Franks then struck a fierce volley but once again Speroni stood strong to maintain a result that reflected both on his own performance and some profligate finishing from Strachan’s men.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now