By Tony Leighton
"Unlucky for some - 13," goes the bingo caller's shout, and 2013 is proving just that for Tony Mowbray's Middlesbrough since the turn of the year.
It all looked so promising when, on New Year's Day, Boro went to Derby County knowing that victory would take them to the top of the npower Championship.
Instead, they lost 3-1 and that kicked off a sorry sequence of 14 matches that have brought 11 defeats and a meagre seven points from the 42 on offer.
Ahead of Tuesday evening's home game against relegation-threatened Peterborough United, Boro have slipped to six points below the Play-Off places.
And a clash with the division's second-bottom team - who Boro beat 3-2 away from home in December - is suddenly seen as fraught with danger.
Not that manager Mowbray is taking too much notice of comparative placings in the table as he attempts to revive his team's promotion hopes.
"I stopped looking at the league table a few weeks ago," said Mowbray as he looked ahead to entertaining Darren Ferguson's Posh.
"In my mind," added the Boro boss, "we just have to win football matches. And if we win games, let's see where the season takes us.
"But obviously we are finding it difficult to win matches at the moment. It's a big game for us against Peterborough, who are very good away from home.
"They are very good on the counter-attack and they create a lot of chances, so we'll have to be mindful of that. They are a very dangerous team.
"We beat them at their place, but they have plenty of threat even though they're struggling down the bottom. So let's just see how we get on."
Whether they win, lose or draw against the Posh, Mowbray's men may find it difficult to force their way back into contention for promotion.
They look outsiders after losing their last four games, all of them to teams who ahead of the respective fixtures were in the bottom half of the table.
"I don't know if we are still in with a shout," admitted the manager. "Let's just play the next game, see what happens and see if we can build any momentum.
"We've still got Nottingham Forest and Brighton to come at home - beat them and all of a sudden you could be comfortably in the Play-Off positions.
"We'll wait and see what our last seven games bring - but there's got to be some turnaround in form from us for it [promotion] to be realistic."
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