Middlesbrough 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Goalless at the Riverside
Last Updated: 30/01/18 10:52pm
Sheffield Wednesday's recent habit of recording goalless draws pegged Middlesbrough back at the Riverside.
Boro are three points off the play-off places after failing to record a first home win in the Championship under Tony Pulis.
Wednesday did not have too many chances themselves and only had one shot on target all night, but they still delivered a third consecutive goalless draw in the league under new boss Jos Luhukay.
Middlesbrough had intentions to attack more at the Riverside under Pulis, after failing to win either of their home league games under him, but Wednesday are growing in confidence under Luhukay.
The Dutch boss made six changes from the FA Cup win over Reading on Friday, including a first Championship appearance for Joel Pelupessy following his move from Heracles.
However, the Owls wanted to improve on the two draws and showed an intention to cause problems, even if they found Middlesbrough's defence resilient on the night.
Boro, who recalled top scorer Britt Assombalonga and key midfielder Stewart Downing, only had one good chance in the first half too - in front of Jack Harrison who made the move on loan from Manchester City before the game after his switch from New York City.
Despite the best attacking efforts of Adama Traore to alter things, there was still a lack of threat posed to the visitors' goal.
Pulis was keen to see more from his team in the final third and things might have gone more smoothly had Grant Leadbitter's inswinging corner flown straight in rather than being tipped away by Joe Wildsmith.
Traore, clearly enjoying life under Pulis, was dangerous down the right. He powered past two Wednesday shirts, delivered a fantastic back post cross for Patrick Bamford's header to force a save out of Wildsmith.
That was in the 12th minute and that was as close as either side came in the first half to finding the net. Wednesday showed plenty of intention down the flanks but were unable to test goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Bamford also went close after the restart. Traore was the creator again, rolling a ball into the area where his team-mate was on hand to control, turn and side foot an effort over the bar.
Assombalonga's first chance came after the hour when he could not get an effort on target when Ben Gibson's downward header from Leadbitter's free-kick dropped invitingly for him at the near post.
Middlesbrough's failure to score increased the nerves in the Riverside and Sheffield Wednesday started to push on in search of a winner.
George Boyd forced Randolph into a save and that led to the introduction of Rudy Gestede, Martin Braithwaite and Adam Clayton for Middlesbrough.
The closest the hosts came to winning it late on was when Daniel Ayala headed a Downing delivery down and wide and then Braithwaite's low strike was held by Wildsmith.
Tony Pulis: "It's disappointing because it is another game where we have played, created six or seven clear-cut chances to score goals where we haven't. That's three or four games I have been involved in where we have thrown points away, and even against Brighton in the cup.
"The club has invested a lot of money in the forward line this year, the players at this club, we need them to come to the party. We look strong enough at the back, we looked creative enough, play good football at times, get lots of crosses into the box, and we get in to that final third a lot. We need them to be on the end of things of creating something out of nothing for themselves."
Jos Luhukay: "I think we had problems in the beginning for the first ten minutes on the left side, we had a problem with Adama Traore and his speed. After ten minutes we came into the game better. We played good football and good combinations. We didn't make the good decisions in the final 30 metres and that was our problem in the first half.
"In the second half we lost the ball too much. We had three or four situations where Middlesbrough could have scored. We have to live with this draw and now recover and try to win our next home game on Saturday. We didn't create many chances."