Middesbrough and West Brom had to settle for a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw last night. Former Boro man James Morrison fired the Baggies ahead finishing low from just outside the penalty area. Aitor Karanka’s men grew into the game as time went on and drew level when a flick from Marten de Roon found Alvaro Negredo who was caught by Gareth McAuley. Negredo stepped up and slotted home the equaliser.
Both sides pushed for a second goal with Ben Foster saving well from a Cristhian Stuani effort late in the first half before the Baggies struck both posts in the second half through Matt Phillips and Salomon Rondon. However neither side could force a winner leaving Middesbrough sitting in 15th while Tony Pulis’s men sit in 8th.
Fresh from their FA Cup 4th round victory over Accrington Stanley on Saturday, Karanka made seven changes. Only Ben Gibson, Bernardo, Fabio and Adam Clayton remained. Alvaro Negredo return in attack with Adama Traore back on the wing while Victor Valdes returned between the sticks.
With no FA Cup game on Saturday, Tony Pulis named an unchanged side from his sides 2-0 victory over Sunderland 10 days earlier. Saloman Rondon led the line with support from Matt Phillips and Nacer Chadli on the flanks. Former Boro men James Morrison and Chris Brunt also started for the Baggies. January signing Jake Livermore was on the bench.
In a fast start from the away side, Pulis’s men were quick to try and gain the initiative and they duly did with just six minutes on the clock. After a free kick was cleared to the edge of the Boro penalty area, James Morrison was unmarked and fired beyond Victor Valdes to put the visitors ahead.
The away side continued with their high pressing with Matt Phillips almost creating a second after a fine run down the left but his cross was blocked by Antonio Barragan. Next to go close for the Baggies was another former Boro man in Chris Brunt but his dipping right foot volley only nestled on top of Valdes’s net.
Boro had struggled in the early running but were gifted a chance to get back into the game. Martin de Roon was found in the pocket just in front of West Brom’s back line, his flick around the corner found Negredo. The Boro striker’s run was halted by Gareth McAuley who was to have adjudged to brought him down. A soft decision which incensed Tony Pulis in the visitors’ dugout, Negredo stepped up a drew Boro level.
The goal seemed to wake up the hosts who were unlucky not to be awarded a second penalty. Cristhian Stuani cut in from the left flank inside the box and looked to have been brought down by Allan Nyom but referee Stuart Attwell waved away appeals.
The Baggies were sitting deeper looking to absorb Boro’s possession and hit them on the counter attack. The pace of Matt Phillips, James Morrison and Nacer Chadli was a danger for Boro with the three combining to set Rondon away but a brilliant recovery from Adama Traore prevented the Baggies no 9 from shooting.
Traore was a threat down the right hand side, twice whipping in delicious crosses but no Boro player was able to get on the end of them. The movement in the midfield with De Roon and Adam Forshaw was starting to provide fruition and Boro nearly took a lead to the break. A cross from Traore was touched towards his own goal by Allan Nyom but a smart save from Ben Foster kept the scores level.
Victor Valdes was called into action on the stroke of half time when a Brunt free kick found the head of Craig Dawson but Valdes saved smartly to his left.
The home side continued the second half in the same vein pushing the Baggies back but it was the away side who should have regained the lead ten minutes after the restart. A fine run from Chadli in the inside right position saw his whipped cross find the head of Matt Phillips but his header cannoned off the post. The rebound fell to Rondon who shifted the ball onto his left foot but just like Phillips his shot found the far post and bounced away to safety.
Tony Pulis introduced both James McClean and Hal Robson- Kanu from the bench looking to find a second but it was Boro who went close. An Adam Clayton cross found De Roon but Foster tipped his header over.
The game was very open with both sides attacking trying to find a second goal, Boro went close through Gibson and Negredo but both efforts were brilliantly blocked inside the Baggies penalty area. Chris Brunt saw an effort from distance tipped over before Phillips dragged a shot wide of the mark. Boro threw on Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede however it was Robson-Kanu who had the last effort of the night but it was comfortably saved by Valdes.