Boro battle back for point
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Middlesbrough twice came from behind to force a 2-2 draw at home to Charlton.
Rookie striker Danny Graham kept Middlesbrough on course for a European spot as the hosts twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against Charlton Athletic at The Riverside Stadium.
Teenage forward Graham climbed off the substitutes' bench to head the leveller on 86 minutes, six minutes after Shaun Bartlett had put The Addicks back in front.
Matt Holland's deflected shot had given the visitors a first half lead which was wiped out by Chris Riggott's close-range finish as Charlton keeper Dean Kiely kept Boro at bay for long periods.
The first half was dominated by both teams carelessly conceding possession and, while there was no lack of endeavour, there was a distinct shortage of quality on offer.
Charlton provided their opponents with an early scare as Hermann Hreidarsson ghosted into the box unmarked to head Danny Murphy's free kick wide of the post.
Another raking pass proved to be Boro's undoing on 14 minutes as Talal El Karkouri fired a long ball from inside his own half.
Bartlett chested it under control, possibly with the use of his forearm, before laying the ball back for Holland, whose shot deflected off Franck Queudrue and beyond a helpless Carlo Nash, who was deputising for the injured Mark Schwarzer.
Nash was not troubled for the remainder of the first half as Charlton seemed content to sit back and soak up limited pressure from the hosts.
Boro's best chance of the half arrived barely 60 seconds after they fell behind. Szilard Nemeth played a one-two with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink but was foiled by a superb, reaction save from Kiely.
The Charlton keeper made a more routine save from Nemeth later in the half, after the Slovakia international had reacted quickest to Riggott's flick-on.
Kiely made another comfortable stop from Doriva before Boro belatedly produced a pass of quality four minutes before the break.
The previously ineffective Stewart Downing played in a precise cross from the left which Hasselbaink, on the stretch, headed towards goal, forcing Kiely to backpedal and tip anxiously over the bar.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Boro pressing forward in search of an equaliser and Charlton waiting patiently for any chance to launch a counter-attack.
Michael Reiziger blazed a shot well over the crossbar after Paul Konchesky had bravely thrown himself in the way of Doriva's thundering volley which seemed certain to test Kiely.
While Kiely was spared involvement on that occasion, he was increasingly called on in the second half and was largely responsible for preserving The Addicks' lead.
Boudewijn Zenden's prod from the edge of the area was tipped over the bar, while from the resulting corner, Boro appealed for handball after Luke Young misjudged his headed clearance.
Hasselbaink curled a 30-yard free kick just off target before the Dutchman almost provided Riggott with a scoring chance, only for Talal El Karkouri to nip in front of the defender to vitally head the ball away for a corner.
From that set-piece, Riggott was again involved as his thumping header was pushed over the frame of the goal by Kiely.
The chances kept coming for Boro and they almost snatched an equaliser via an unorthodox route. Downing's free kick was nodded back into the six-yard box by Queudrue and Hreidarsson's intervention only succeeded in prompting Kiely to make another reflex save to keep Charlton's noses in front.
Boro captain Gareth Southgate then got in on the act, showing superb skill on the edge of the box before snapping in a volley which was deflected wide. From the corner, Southgate teed up Queudrue but his header was cleared off the line by Radostin Kishishev.
Charlton's stubborn resistance was finally quashed on 74 minutes, although there was an element of offside to the equaliser. Hasselbaink's miscued volley was turned goalbound by Southgate, forcing Kiely into another smart stop, but the rebound from Riggott crept inside the post.
However, The Addicks appealed for offside, with replays suggesting the defender was offside when his skipper had the initial shot.
But Boro fell for a sucker-punch ten minutes from time courtesy of Charlton's only chance of the second half. Hreidarsson galloped down the left flank and cut the ball back into the penalty area. Boro defenders flailed into trying to clear and Bartlett smashed a first time shot beyond the exposed Nash.
Boro, to their credit, refused to be downhearted and salvaged an equaliser with four minutes left on the clock. Queudrue pumped a hopeful ball down field, Graham escaped the offside trap and headed the ball over the stranded Kiely, with the substitute getting a kick in the mouth from Chris Perry for his troubles.
Charlton almost snatched a dramatic injury time winner as substitute Jason Euell saw his snap-shot fumbled by Nash but three points for the visitors would have been ill-deserved.Click here for player ratings
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Charlton Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|11||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||3|