2:37pm Saturday 22nd February 2014
By Paul Fraser
Full-time: Middlesbrough 0 Leeds United 0
IT is now more than ten hours since Middlesbrough scored a goal and in setting a new club record they could only draw with Leeds United at the Riverside today.
When the final whistle was blown by referee Anthony Taylor it brought an end to a game in which Boro rarely looked like ending their search for a goal.
And the ten hour and 15 minute wait to hit the net is now the longest barren spell that Middlesbrough have had in their history.
Leeds goalkeeper Jack Butland did make a couple of very good saves, but in the end the visitors could quite easily have nicked all three points themselves at the other end had they not been just as toothless.
Middlesbrough, who saw Albert Adomah miss a great chance in stoppage time, might have a avoided defeat but the frustration was clear on Aitor Karanka, who must wonder when the wait will end.
Karanka tried to address his side's goalscoring problems by including three strikers in his starting line-up. Despite fielding Curtis Main, Kei Kamara and Danny Graham in the same team, though, he stuck with the lone striker system.
Graham was the man asked to operate through the middle and both Main and Kamara saw plenty of the ball but never really threatened down the flanks like a more natural winger would.
Middlesbrough started brightly, although that soon faded and Leeds were just as effective in the opening period as their hosts even if that did not amount to much either.
In fact the first serious effort at goal was when Leeds midfielder Luke Murphy drove from 25 yards and it flew a yard the wrong side of Shay Given's left hand post.
That did not arrive until five minutes before half-time and, moments later, Jacob Butterfield had Middlesbrough's first decent shot on goal too. Butterfield's dipping volley from 22 yards was tipped over by goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Butland, signed on loan from Stoke City on Thursday, would have expected a busier afternoon but Shay Given, making his last appearance before returning to Aston Villa, was equally quiet.
There was a sense that it could take something out of the ordinary to break the deadlock and that almost arrived minutes in to the second half.
When left-back George Friend centred it should have been comfortable for Stephen Warnock to deal with. Instead the ball bounced off him and would have gone in to his own net had Butland not been on hand to stop.
After that Graham had an overhead kick easily saved by Butland and a volley fly over, but Middlesbrough still lacked a bit of magic in the final third.
The introduction of Adomah, Emmanuel Ledesma and debutant Lee Tomlin almost heralded a goal.
Adomah found space behind the Leeds defence but was denied by the onrushing figure of Butland and he then wasted a better chance with seconds left.
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Given, Varga, Woodgate, Omeruo, Friend; Leadbitter, Chalobah; Main (Adomah 72), Butterfield (Ledesma 77), Kamara (Tomlin 67); Graham. Subs: Konstantopoulos (gk), Whitehead, Morris, Atkinson.
Leeds (4-4-2): Peltier, Wooton, Pearce, Warnock; Kebe, Murphy, Austin, Stewart; McCormack, Hunt (Smith 82). Subs: Brown, Tonge, Zaliukas, Poleon, Cairns, Mowatt.
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