DOUGIE Freedman refused to be too downbeat despite seeing his side gift Middlesbrough a two-goal lead at the Reebok yesterday.

Zat Knight bore the brunt of the fans’ frustration after making two mistakes in the first 20 minutes.

But after seeing Alex Baptiste halve the deficit in the first half and substitute David Ngog rescue a point with a last-minute strike, Freedman felt there was no need for further criticism after the final whistle.

“Fans come along to see their team win and when their team is 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes then of course they will be upset,” he said of the fans’ response.

“No-one is more disappointed than me about that but it is such a fine line.

“But I felt that the players got a hold on the game and didn’t chuck the towel in. The commitment was there.

“We shot ourselves in the foot but we are so, so close. There have been too many draws this season again.”

Defender Knight was jeered by large sections of the support after his role in Boro’s second goal, scored by Curtis Main. Freedman praised his club captain for producing the right response, which seemed to win over some of the boo-boys as the game wore on.

“I thought it was a very good reaction,” he said. “You are going to make mistakes in life but it’s all about how you react to them. That’s a message I put over to the players.

“I’m a positive person and try to look forward and because of that reaction the players got themselves back into the game.”

Meanwhile, Freedman’s hopes of signing Cardiff full-back Kevin McNaughton on loan seemed to take a hit yesterday after he was selected to feature against Arsenal.

The Scot had been on the sidelines all season in South Wales but Freedman admitted his inclusion at the Emirates yesterday means a deal is considerably less likely.

“It’s disappointing as a coach to get someone’s career back on track at another club,” he said. “It just seems the way it is going this season. We are not helping ourselves.

“Kevin did very well for us and probably deserves his run. “We have got to look long and hard at loans and frees. If someone comes up I think is worth investing some money in then I will go to the board and let them know.”