MIDDLESBROUGH and Bristol City came to blows under unusual circumstances in their Championship clash last night – after an argument over a towel.
The Robins claimed a valuable 1-0 win to launch themselves into the play-off positions and inflict upon Boro their fifth defeat in a row.
Adam Webster got the only goal in the first half with a header from Jay Dasilva’s corner, to follow-up the weekend victory over Sheffield United..
But there was only one talking point come the end of the game.
Tony Pulis‘ side regularly use towels to dry the ball before throw-ins and have ball-kids situated by the touchline ready to assist the home team.
Ryan Shotton and George Friend were among those making use of the article.
But it got a bit confusing until eventually Mo Besic gave us a towel. So we thank you very much for that
Bristol City manager Lee Johnson
However, no such luxury was afforded to visitors City, who were annoyed by the double standards.
Boss Lee Johnson wanted referee Gavin Ward to ban their use during the game if they were not available to both teams.
The situation was further complicated when a towel was presented to full-back Jack Hunt before a second-half re-start.
But emotions spilled over when substitute Muhamed Besic, who was sent to deliver the piece of material, merely dumped it on the greasy turf.
Johnson was unhappy with the midfielder’s actions and the pair squared up on the touchline, while players on the field also scrapped.
Marlon Pack and George Saville were both booked amid the melee and The Football Association could yet take further action following the ref’s post-match report of the episode.
Speaking to the media after the win, Johnson said: “Towel-gate? Middlesbrough have got some big old boys and they’ve got a fantastic weapon in Shotton’s throw.
“We noticed on the analysis that either the ball boy or someone pops out from the crowd and gives them the towel when they have a throw but doesn’t when the opposition do.
“We asked the referee for it to be equal or kill the towels. Really, we wanted to kill the towel because it was probably worth an extra two or three yards of Rory Delap-style throw.
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“But it got a bit confusing until eventually Mo Besic gave us a towel. So we thank you very much for that.”
Pulis, whose role at the Riverside is under scrutiny with the club having dropped to eighth, added: “That was our fault. I’ll be honest and open.
“If we’ve got a towel down one end of the pitch then we should have one the other end too.”