Christie steps in to save Middlesbrough's blushes

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The Independent Online

Steve McClaren's hopes of giving his players a light work-out and cruising into the third round of the Carling Cup failed to materialise as Second Division Brighton battled all the way at a sparse Riverside Stadium, before eventually going down 1-0 in extra-time to a Malcolm Christie strike.

McClaren was without the injured midfielder Gaizka Mendieta but chose to rest Joseph-Desiré Job, Sunday's match-winner, and Bolo Zenden against the Nationwide League outfit, while Christie and Juninho started the match on the bench.

Although ultimately the quality of his Premiership side was enough to secure a place in the next round, the manner in which they laboured to break down a resolute but technically out-classed side two divisions below them will have far from impressed the Middlesbrough manager.

The 300-strong travelling contingent of Albion fans, having made the five-and-a-half hour journey north, certainly deserved more reward than they got, if only for giving a near-deserted Riverside Stadium some sense of atmosphere in a crowd of only 10,435.

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, expressed his delight after Mario Jardel's double strike saw the Premiership side through to the third round with a 3-1 home win over Walsall.

The bulky Brazilian needed only 14 minutes of his full debut to open his account with a diving header, and then followed up to his own parried penalty 11 minutes from time.

Allardyce said: "Mario did what we bought him for and scored two goals. It is five-and-a-half months since he last played a full game and I think it showed that he has still got a bit to go. But he has done a magnificent job on himself in training and the only way for him now is up."

But there was bad news for his fellow debutant, Ibrahim Ba, who was replaced at the start of the second half with a calf strain.

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