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Match Reports

Report: Middlesbrough 1 Rovers 1

A share of the spoils as Rovers take a point away at the Riverside against 10-man Boro

8 December 2018

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Rovers produced a hardworking display at the Riverside Stadium, but couldn't do enough to beat the 10 men of Middlesbrough.

Charlie Mulgrew gave Rovers the lead from a free kick after Mo Besic saw red for dragging back Bradley Dack midway through the first half.

Rovers had their chances to get out of site, most notably when Dack cracked the post just after half time, before Britt Assombalonga came off the bench to crash home an unstoppable effort just after the hour to earn a share of the spoils.

Tony Mowbray named an unchanged starting XI for today's clash against his old side, meaning Paul Downing starts back-to-back games for the first time this season following his excellent performance against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.

Craig Conway also kept his place in the team, and started on the left of a trio behind ex-Boro man Danny Graham.

A lively start from the home side saw Aden Flint head a Stewart Downing corner towards goal, and Corry Evans was in the right place at the right time to hack clear of danger just five minutes into the encounter.

At the other end, Bradley Dack saw his left-footed attempt deflect just past Darren Randolph's right-hand post as Mowbray's men made forays into the Boro defensive third.

Midway through the half and Boro were deservedly reduced to 10 men as Besic tugged back Dack when clean through and the Bosnian international went for an early bath.

From that resulting free kick, up stepped Mulgrew to superbly curl into the bottom corner of the net to hand Rovers the lead.

Boro searched for a response, and Stewart Downing's scuffed volley forced David Raya to hold onto his attempt.

Graham was proving to be a bit of a nuisance for his former club and centre back Daniel Ayala produced a brilliant block to deny the striker after he connected with a low cross from Harrison Reed.

Corry Evans had an unbelievable chance to add to the scoreline with just a few minutes of the half remaining, but he poked wide after a stinging drive from Graham was beaten into his path by the gloves of Randolph.

But all in all it was a fine first half display from the visitors, who probably could and should have been further in front going into the interval.

Middlesbrough made a double change at the break, with Assombalonga joining Jordan Hugill up front and George Saville replacing Adam Clayton in midfield.

Seven minutes into the second half and Rovers went close to a second of the afternoon. A sweeping move saw Dack lay the ball out to the left side before Conway played the ball back into his path, only for the number 23's guided effort to smash against the post and away with Randolph beaten.

You felt that chance could come back to bite Rovers on the backside, and that proved to be the case just after the hour mark as Assombalonga sensationally curled into the corner of the net from 20 yards to level things up.

Reed forced Randolph to juggle the ball when he rifled towards goal from long range with under 15 minutes remaining as the visitors probed for a potential winning goal.

With time running out, Assombalonga had a big chance to win the game, but after flicking the ball over Raya, Downing was there to recover and hook clear.

And 1-1 was how things stayed, as Rovers picked up a point at one of the promotion favourites, but may look back on a chance missed at the Riverside against Mowbray's boyhood club.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Friend (c), Ayala, Shotton, Clayton (Saville, 46), Hugill, Howson, Fletcher (Wing, 32), Downing (Assombalonga, 46), Flint, Besic.

Unused substitutes: Lonergan, Batth, McNair, Tavernier.

Goal: Assombalonga, 62

Booked: Shotton, 13, Friend, 44

Sent off: Besic, 21

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Downing, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood (Rothwell, 75), Evans, Reed (Brereton, 85), Dack, Conway (Armstrong, 70), Graham.

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Bell, Lenihan, Palmer.

Goal: Mulgrew, 22

Booked: Williams, 18, Dack, 55

Referee: Simon Hooper. 

Attendance: 21,985 (763 away).

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