A VALUABLE point and the first clean sheet of the season was the reward for Boro's endeavours. Writes GORDON COX from The Hawthorns.
In the absence of George Friend who missed the game with a calf injury Ben Gibson assumed captaincy of a side that showed just the one change from that which won at Sunderland seven days ago as Daniel Ayala returned to the central of defence.
Tony Pulis made three changes from the side that lost 1-2 here against Everton eight days ago.
Both sides showed plenty changes from their midweek cup exits, West Brom’s coming after penalties at Northampton.
Jonas Olsson, Craig Gardner and Saido Berahino dropped to the bench as Sam Field, Brendan Galloway and James McClean all started.
It took just 68 seconds for Anthony Taylor to show the first yellow card of the game as Ayala mistimed a challenge 12 yards up from the corner flag deep in the Boro half.
Boro were under threat again just a couple of minutes later as McClean set off on a darting, direct run into the heart of the defence, but lost his footing inside the penalty area.
It took nine minutes for Boro to make meaningful progress into the Albion penalty area only for Cristhian Stuani to overhit a cross and bring a promising move to an end.
Brad Guzan, not afforded the warmest of receptions by the Baggies fans because of his Villa past, had to move smartly to smother another threat from McClean as the home side continued to press.
A superb turn on the halfway line from Alvaro Negredo left Gareth McAuley trailing in his wake as he sped off to the penalty area. The build-up was better than the end product however as Negredo had little support up with him and McAuley made up lost ground.
At least Boro were by now seeing more of the ball.
Following a lengthy period on inactivity in either penalty area, West Brom broke quickly and Galloway drilled a low shot from 22 yards that forced Guzan into a smart save.
In the closing minutes of the half Albion won two corners in quick succession, the second of which was more dangerous, but still not able to create a worthwhile chance of a breakthrough.
Half-time West Bromwich Albion 0 Middlesbrough 0
The second half was as tight as the first with both defences so much on top that neither goalkeeper saw much of the ball in the opening 20 minutes.
Matt Phillips pounced on a half chance a couple of yard up from the edge of the Boro penalty area, winning a corner when the effort was deflected.
That was as close as either side had gone in long while on a warm, energy-sapping afternoon.
Suddenly Boro had a chance as Antonio Barragan cut at an angle into the West Brom penalty area and set up Stuani. Powerful as his shot was, it went straight at Ben Foster.
The visitors were beginning to find room and twice Emilio Nsue went close in the penalty area.
There was a scramble following a right wing corner and for a fleeting moment it looked as though the last touch, from Ayala, was going to edge Boro in front, then Foster gathered.
Another scramble, this time at the other end, had Guzan turning away a deflection off Ayala in closing minutes that were not in keeping with most of the rest of the match.
Full-time West Bromwich Albion 0 Middlesbrough 0
West Brom: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Galloway, Evans, Phillips, Fletcher (Capt.), Yacob, McClean (Leko 64) (Berahino 71), Field (Gardner 76), Rondon. Subs: Rose (gk); Olsson, Lambert, Wilson.
Middlesbrough: Guzan; Nsue, Ayala, Gibson (Capt.), Barragan, Stuani (Fischer 90+3), Clayton, Forshaw, Downing, Ramirez (Nugent 83), Negredo. Subs: Konstantopoulos (gk); Espinosa, De Sart, Reach, Rhodes.
Referee Anthony Taylor. Cheshire.
West Brom Yacob 65, foul.
Boro Ayala 1, foul, Ramirez 48, foul, Barragan 76, dissent.
Conditions Sunny, dry and warm
Attendance 23,690 (2,258 Boro)