Middlesbrough 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

Last updated : 31 January 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Without question the goalless draw between Middlesbrough and Blackburn ranked as the most disappointing game of the season at the Riverside Stadium.

There was a lack of creative ability from both sides, with thrills in short supply for the below average crowd of 23,000.

Both teams are locked in a relegation battle and there will have to be tremendous improvement in the final stages of the season if either are to pull clear.

After 11 successive seasons in the top-flight, Middlesbrough will be fortunate to survive. They are finding it difficult to score goals and there is a lack of self-belief in the young side.

Blackburn must wish they could play all their away games in the north-east as in the last four years they have not lost in 15 visits to the area.

Middlesbrough gave loan signing Marlon King a home debut and a rare first-team outing for goalkeeper Brad Jones.

Jones took over from Ross Turnbull and made the most of his opportunity. He was Middlesbrough's star man and on this form could hold on to his place.

Turnbull has yet to sign a new contract with a take-it-or-leave-it offer from manager Gareth Southgate.

Before the kick-off both teams learnt that relegation rivals Stoke City had beaten Manchester City, so there was added pressure on both sides to win the game.

After only five minutes Blackburn's Andre Ooijer was booked for a foul after bringing down Adam Johnson.

Neither side created any openings in the early stages with Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson in particular having an easy time. Defences were on top and there was little for the crowd to enthuse over.

Benni McCarthy shot just wide of the far post for Blackburn while, at the other end, Johnson had a deflected shot following a brilliant cross-field pass by Stewart Downing.

Blackburn were forced to make a substitution after Keith Andrews limped to the touchline after 38 minutes with Tugay replacing the former MK Dons man.

Chris Riggott then cleared off the goal-line from Roque Santa Cruz, but the Blackburn striker was pulled up for a handling offence.

There was a clash of heads early in the second half and a farcical incident with Middlesbrough forward Tuncay. Southgate was ready to introduce Afonso Alves before Tuncay raced back on to the field.

Southgate handed his jacket to Alves to keep the Brazilian warm on the touchline before the player walked back on to the substitute's bench.

Blackburn looked the more likely winners and Boro could thank Jones for a point.