Boro’s unbeaten run in the Championship continued after early pace setters Reading held Neil Warnock’s side to a goalless draw at the Riverside.
In a game of very few chances, Warrnock was left ruing an offside decision against Jonny Howson when it looked the Boro midfielder had settled matters with a great strike midway through the second half.
Reading, who had started the season like a house on fire, winning their first four games, found Boro a tough proposition and will consider themselves fortunate to leave Teesside with a point.
The visitors were rattled early doors when they weren’t allowed to settle and goalkeeper Rafael Cabral had to react twice in the space of a minute to prevent an early opener for Boro. The first came to turn a Howson shot over the top and then he had to be alert after one of his own defenders headed towards the top corner.
It took the visitors a while to demonstrate their quality, Ovie Ejaria emerging as a real threat, but Marcus Bettinelli wasn’t called into action until he saved well from Michael Olise at the second attempt.
Lucas Joao sent an effort wide of the mark while Paddy McNair went close with a free-kick from distance, but the opening period was more of a battle than a spectacle, with any flow hindered by a succession of free-kicks.
Half-time brought a change for Boro with Britt Assombalonga coming off and less than 30 seconds into the second half Chuba Akpom was the victim of a crude challenge that left him needing extensive treatment.
The second half was even more attritional than the first half and the first real sight of goal fell to Ejaria whose powerful strike was wide of the mark. Sam Morsy also had an effort blocked while Marvin Johnson, who had replaced Assombalonga, was denied by some good defending when he drilled a ball into the danger zone.
Boro did have the ball in the net with 20 minutes remaining when Howson, sporting the captain’s armband, drilled the ball home with a great finish after some pinball on the edge of the box, but an offside flag was raised against him.
The Boro midfielder was also denied again from an almost identical angle, but on this occasion there were bodies between him and goal, and his shot was deflected away from the target.
Warnock’s men had the greater possession and the better territorial advantage, but the visiting Royals dug deep ensure honours ended even.