Stalemate at the Riverside
Point apiece helps neither side in their bid to beat the drop
By Ashley Marshall. Last Updated: 31/01/09 6:05pm
Roberts: Missed late chance
Blackburn have joined Middlesbrough in the relegation zone after a goalless draw at the Riverside.
Chances were few and far between, although Rovers substitute Jason Roberts could have won the game with a header in the fifth minute of injury time.
The game came to life in the second half after an uneventful first period which saw Adam Johnson going the closest with a fizzing strike from 20 yards out.
David Dunn made Boro 'keeper Brad Jones work on two occasions after the break, but the Australian - who replaced the dropped Ross Turnbull - was equal to both strikes.
Boro looked at their most dangerous on the counter attack, with Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson causing the majority of the problems for a Rovers defence led by captain Ryan Nelsen.
At the other end, Tugay went close for the visitors but Roberts could have won the game in stoppage time when his header from six yards out was saved by a diving Jones.
The result keeps Sam Allardyce's unbeaten run at Blackburn intact as the new Rovers boss extended his promising sequence of results to eight without defeat, six in the Premier League, to take a 10th point from a possible 18.
Gareth Southgate's side will have been relieved to emerge from the game with a point, although Adam Johnson had a long-range effort deflected wide - and Chris Riggott headed just over.
It was the visitors who could nonetheless be most satisfied with their afternoon's work, in front of 24,303 - the Riverside's lowest league crowd of the season.
The sides lying in 18th and 17th places respectively this morning ran out knowing 10-man Stoke had already beaten big-spending Manchester City.
Of the two, it was Blackburn who appeared the more determined to address the situation - as Boro, depleted by injuries and suspensions, betrayed all the signs of a team in deep trouble.
The Teessiders managed only one effort of note in the opening 45 minutes.
England winger Stewart Downing, lining up on the right rather than left, sent a raking 34th-minute pass into the path of understudy Johnson - and then looked on as he smashed a left-foot shot just wide with the help of a deflection.
Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson did not, however, have a meaningful save to make - unlike opposite number Jones.
The Australian, who started the season as first choice but lost out through injury to Ross Turnbull, returned at the younger man's expense and found himself in rather too much action for his own liking.
He had to get down well to collect Keith Andrews' 20th-minute shot, and was then forced to make an unorthodox save with his foot as Santa Cruz sent in a wickedly swerving drive four minutes before the break.
Jones and his team-mates heaved a huge sigh of relief when Grella volleyed inches wide of the post, with no one in any position to have kept the ball out had it been any closer to the target.
Whatever Southgate said at the break seemed to strike a chord, his players resuming with an instantly increased tempo.
Tuncay Sanli was only just prevented from reaching home debutant Marlon King's knock-down by Christopher Samba within seconds of the restart, and then teenage midfielder Josh Walker could not get past Ryan Nelsen's block.
Boro went close again from a 54th-minute corner when, with Tuncay and Samba both off the pitch receiving treatment after a clash of heads, Riggott glanced Downing's near-post corner just over the bar.
Tuncay was able to continue, much to the disappointment of record signing Afonso Alves, who stalked back to the bench - having already headed to the touchline.
He and Marvin Emnes eventually entered the fray as 65th-minute replacements for Tuncay and King - but in the meantime, Jones had to tip over substitute Tugay's dipping 25-yard drive.
Boro took the game to Rovers, and Allardyce responded by replacing striker Benni McCarthy with Roberts.
But it was Grella who might have given his side a 75th-minute lead, had it not been for a brave block by Walker.Jones had to make vital 82nd, 86th and - after denying Roberts - 90th-minute saves from substitute David Dunn, and then kept out Roberts' header five minutes into injury time as the Teessiders hung on.
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||9|
|3||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||5||7|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||5||5|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||5||4|