Blackburn Rovers 1 Middlesbrough 1

Last updated : 19 January 2008 By Footymad Previewer
The Comeback Kings of the Premier League were forced to do it again in a fiery encounter at Ewood Park.

Middlesbrough's David Wheater had headed the visitors in front from an early Stewart Downing free-kick, before Blackburn's Matt Derbyshire snatched a point for the home side ten minutes after coming on from the bench.

It was the ninth time this season that Rovers have come from behind to claim a positive result in their pursuit for a top-six finish.

Before the game, Rovers boss Mark Hughes made just one alteration to the side that defeated local rivals Bolton last weekend, with Jason Roberts rewarded for his last-minute winner at the expense of Benni McCarthy.

Middlesbrough meanwhile made two changes to the side that held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw, with Emanuel Pogatetz preferred to Jonathan Grounds and Julio Arca returning from suspension in place of Fabio Rochemback.

After a dismal start, in which neither side had registered any real attack of note, came the opening goal that the game desperately needed.

Thirteen minutes were on the clock when the visitors were awarded a dubious free-kick on the right, Downing swung over the cross and Wheater rose above Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen to head past Brad Friedel from close range.

The home side had an opportunity to equalise just three minutes later, but Roque Santa Cruz failed to get any power on his header from David Bentley's ball in.

A Bentley free-kick was then comfortably dealt with by Mark Schwarzer, before a speculative Andre Ooijer volley had to be palmed round the post by the Aussie keeper.

David Dunn and Arca exchanged ambitious long-range efforts, while Bentley fizzed a left-foot shot just past the post, as an altogether disappointing first-half display came to an end.

Middlesbrough replaced Arca for Rochemback at the break and the Brazilian midfielder almost set up the visitors' second with a precise ball over the top to Jeremie Aliadiere, but after bearing down on goal, the Frenchman fired just wide of the far post.

Two minutes later, Aliadiere found himself in a similar position inside the box, but after squaring to strike partner Tuncay Sanli, the former Fenerbahce forward mis-kicked with the goal at his mercy and Stephen Warnock cleared off his own line.

On 63 minutes, a thunderous Rochemback free-kick was only parried by Friedel and Gary O'Neil's follow-up went straight into the goalkeeper's grasp. And moments later, a firm but fair challenge by Nelsen on Aliadiere almost caused a ruckus between Hughes and the Boro bench.

The visitors continued to look the more dangerous in attack and Wheater almost grabbed his second from O'Neil's lofted cross, but the defender's towering header came crashing back off the underside of the bar.

But against the run of play, Rovers got back on level terms. A Bentley free-kick was flicked on by Santa Cruz, Roberts' left-foot shot was heading well wide, but Derbyshire was on hand to tap home at the far post.

As both sides pushed for the winner, Downing had a header cleared off the line, Bentley glanced the outside of the post with another free-kick, while Aliadiere somehow headed over from point-blank range, with the two managers forced to settle for a point.