Report: Middlesbrough 1 Rovers 1
Jordi Gomez struck a stunning debut goal but Rovers had to settle for a share of the points at the Riverside.
The deadline day loan signing looked to have set Rovers on their way for a deserved three points with a second half stunner, but the lead lasted barely seven minutes as David Nugent levelled to ensure the game ended 1-1.
Rovers dominated the first half, Darragh Lenihan seeing a shot well saved, Elliott Ward a goal chalked off for offside, and Tony Watt went close with a poked effort.
Half-time substitute Cristhian Stuani headed over as the home side came into the game, but it was Rovers who grabbed the lead on 72 minutes when Gomez marked an impressive debut display with a fine strike from the edge of the box.
However Rovers couldn't hold onto their lead and as Emilio Nsue crossed from the right, Nugent ghosted in to head home.
Unbowed, Paul Lambert's side continued to push, and they should have been celebrating all three points, but just before full-time Hope Akpan fired wide when well placed.
Rovers handed a debut to deadline day signing Gomez. The Spaniard being one of three changes from the side that knocked Oxford United out of the FA Cup seven days ago.
After being cup-tied last week, Danny Graham returned to the starting XI to face the club where he began his footballing career, whilst Hope Akpan recovered from a knee knock to resume his place in midfield as Elliott Bennett, Craig Conway, and Simeon Jackson all dropped to the bench.
After a low-key start to the match at the Riverside it was the Rovers with the first effort at goal on the quarter-hour.
Gomez was busy in the centre of the park and he squeezed a pass through to Darragh Lenihan who left fly from distance, but Dimi Konstantopoulos got down well to save the long-range strike.
Rovers went closer still two minutes later when a superb free-kick from Gomez picked out the near-post run of Elliott Ward, but he was just a touch offside as his flicked effort found the back of the net. His celebrations cut short by the linesman's flag.
More good attacking play saw the visitors press their hosts back once more. Gomez with a ball forward that Akpan allowed to run through to Tony Watt, but his poked effort flashed a yard wide of the far post.
Then Ward saw decent shouts for a penalty ignored after the Rovers man was held down in the area. The defender looked to control a ball up to him but was impeded by Daniel Ayala, however his appeals went unheard.
Gomez then saw a shot deflect wide after a sweeping move that the loan man started. Watt's centre couldn't be controlled by Akpan, Gomez took aim, but the ball touched a vital home boot to take it wide of goal.
Jason Steele saw very little action on his return to the Riverside, a long-range effort from Grant Leadbitter that curled well wide the closest Middlesbrough came to threatening in the opening half.
Play was centred more towards the Rovers box as the half drew to a close, Tommy Spurr defended well when Daniel Ayala looked to get on the end of a Stewart Downing cross, whilst Steele punched another centre away.
The last action of the half saw the impressive Gomez threaten once more. Taking the ball down beautifully, he left fly from the corner of the area, but the Boro goal wasn't threatened.
The home side made a change at the break with Cristhian Stuani replacing Kike Sola, but it was Rovers threatening with a couple of early corner kicks, though neither amounted to anything.
The home side also looked lively with Downing showing his prowess down the flank, but Rovers dealt with his deliveries into the box. Just past the hour mark a quickly-taken corner from Boro found Ben Gibson at the back post but the defender blazed over the bar.
Play was quickly shifted down the other end of the park with Graham's lay-off finding Lenihan, but with the ball arrowing towards the back of the net, it took a key deflection to send it wide.
As the game became increasingly stretched, Ben Marshall put a free-kick over, before a superb centre from Downing was headed over from close-range by half-time substitute Stuani.
Rovers continued be the brighter side and on 72 minutes their forward play was rewarded with the opening goal of the game.
The impressive Lenihan did well to find Gomez on the edge of the area and within the blink of an eye the Spaniard hit a sweet left-footed strike that flashed into the corner of the net past a stranded Konstantopoulos.
That prompted Middlesbrough into making their third change of the game as the familiar face of Jordan Rhodes replaced Albert Adomah. But it was his strike partner David Nugent would ensure Rovers' lead would last just seven minutes.
Rovers looked to have dealt with an attack as the ball was cleared to the right, but Emilio Nsue took advantage of the space afforded to him to deliver a dangerous cross to the back post to where Nugent rose to glance home.
It was harsh on Rovers as the home side had barely threatened, but it only took one moment of hesitation for them to be punished.
Elliott Bennett replaced goalscorer Gomez with seven minutes remaining and almost immediately the midfielder was involved. Claiming possession midway in the Boro half he advanced before shooting but he failed to hit the target.
But with a minute left of the 90 Rovers wasted a glorious opportunity to leave the north east with all three points.
A Marshall free-kick into the area fell perfectly for Akpan, the midfielder had time to control and pick his shot but from 12-yards out, but he somehow put his effort wide of goal.
Rhodes saw a long-range strike easily saved by Steele in added time as Boro looked for an undeserved winner, but as the final whistle went you can't help feeling that Rovers should have finished as the winning side.
BORO: Konstantopoulos, Leadbitter, Nugent, De Laet, Gibson, Downing, Ayala (sub Kalas 45+1 mins), Adomah (sub Rhodes 77 mins), Kike Sola (sub Stuani 46 mins), Nsue, Clayton.
Subs not used: Mejias (GK), Ramirez, De Sart, Forshaw.
Goals: Nugent 79 mins.
Booked: Kike Sola, Leadbitter
ROVERS: Steele, Marshall, Ward, Hanley (c), Spurr, Evans, Lenihan, Akpan, Gomez (sub Bennett 83 mins), Watt (sub Jackson 74 mins), Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Kilgallon, Taylor, Duffy, Conway.
Goals: Gomez 72 mins.
Booked: Marshall, Lenihan, Evans, Hanley, Gomez.
Attendance: 26,244 (including 554 Rovers fans).