Middlesbrough 0 Sheffield United 0

Last updated : 07 August 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough opened their Championship season with a cut and thrust goalless battle with Sheffield United before a crowd of 23,541 at the Riverside.

The game showed that Boro will not find it easy to regain their Premier League status after relegation last season, while the Blades fought every inch of the way and were full value for their point.

The game was played at a fast tempo throughout and it was a pity there were no goals to reward the fans.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate will have been pleased with his players' commitment against a team that could be challenging for promotion again after being involved in the playoffs last season.

Blades boss Kevin Blackwell will have been equally pleased with the overall determination of his side.

The pace of the game never flagged though, surprisingly, neither goalkeeper had a lot to do.

This was a reflection on the first-time tackling and covering of the two teams.

Before the game both sets of fans showed their appreciation for the late Sir Bobby Robson.

The visitors were the more lively side in the early stages and Middlesbrough survived one terrific goal-line scramble early in the first half.

But Boro hit back with Mark Bunn making a brilliant full-length save to deny Mark Yeates, a lively newcomer to the home side.

Full-back David Wheater headed over the bar for Middlesbrough, while at the other end debutant Danny Coyne made an excellent save from the lively Stephen Quinn.

Middlesbrough midfielder Didier Digard was injured just before the break and his place was taken by Gary O'Neill, who faces a hernia operation next week.

In a sporting encounter the referee handed out only one booking to Middlesbrough's Rhys Williams early in the second half.

The visitors won the midfield battle for long periods in the second half, with Marvin Emnes operating as a lone home striker for a while.