Neil Warnock admitted that the lack of a cutting edge was blunting Middlesbrough’s play-off challenge after they suffered a 2-1 Championship defeat at Derby.
Warnock’s team are winless in five games and have scored only twice during that run which leaves them six points outside the top six.
Warnock said: “It’s disappointing result-wise but once again I didn’t think we were a threat.
“Since I’ve been here, well in fact for the last few years really, there’s not been enough threat up front.
“I thought last week if we’d had (Ivan) Toney we’d have won the game and I think if we’d had (Colin) Kazim-Richards today we would have won the game.
“I don’t think there’s much wrong that needs putting right but at the moment things aren’t dropping for us either.”
Derby carried a bigger threat and Lee Gregory marked his home debut with a goal in the 15th minute as Boro were caught cold at a corner.
Lee Buchanan was unmarked at the back post to knock the ball across and Gregory ran in to head home.
The on-loan Stoke striker was involved again in the move for Derby’s second in the 32nd minute when Colin Kazim-Richards smashed his lay-off past Marcus Bettinelli from 25 yards.
But Kazim-Richards was caught in possession six minutes later by Marc Bola who surged into the area and – when Derby failed to clear – Neeskens Kebano drove the loose ball past David Marshall.
For all their second-half possession, the visitors rarely threatened until the closing minutes when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had an opening 10 yards out but his shot was blocked.
Warnock added: “We’ve got to come up with answers to score goals. I could have been in either goal today I think and I’d probably have got six out of 10.
“Up front we were like a damp squib today, nothing at all was happening. I thought we kept trying and had a lot of possession but I think Middlesbrough’s had that problem for a few years, not scoring enough goals.”
Derby manager Wayne Rooney hailed the victory as his side secured maximum points to boost their chances of staying up.
He said: “It was a big win for us, coming off defeat in our previous game (against Rotherham).
“We felt it was better today to go two strikers and go a bit more direct and I thought we did that really well.
“Second half, certainly in the last 10 minutes, we gave away some sloppy free-kicks and we need to get better.
“It cost us against Sheffield Wednesday and cost us against Rotherham so our game management in those situations needs to be better.
“It’s pleasing to get the two strikers on the score sheet and in the last 10 minutes, I thought the way we defended the box and put bodies on the line showed the character of this group.
“I think it’s clear for everyone to see, the one thing this team has is character and great togetherness.
“After the Middlesbrough game away (in November), Neil Warnock said to one of our coaches we are good individuals but not a good team.
“The difference you see now is we have got good individuals and we are a fantastic team.
“The work rate the players are putting in and the engagement every day in training has been fantastic and I can’t ask for more from them.”