Boro welcomed the fans back to the Riverside – and the 1,000 supporters witnessed the best home league performance of 2020.
Kevin Blackwell, standing in for the absent Neil Warnock, had said the presence of a crowd could prove all the difference in Boro’s search for a first home league win of the year, and those fans proceeded to watch their team pummel visiting Bournemouth for the biggest part of a one-sided contest
The fact the game was almost settled in Bournemouth’s favour by a scruffy goal from a set-piece is something that Boro will lament once again, but the domination of the performance and quality at times ensured the home side picked up a first point of the season.
With the crowd in good voice, and the players clearly thriving on having supporters back again, Boro tore into the visitors from the off, and spent long periods camped in the opposing half.
George Saville fired an effort just wide of the upright inside the opening few minutes, and that set the tone. Marcus Tavernier drilled in a shot which Asmir Begovic had to get down well to and Saville had another shot blocked before Jonny Howson sent one wide.
Ashley Fletcher was also crowded out on more than one occasion after some neat build-up play, Grant Hall headed over from a Marvin Johnson cross, and Boro’s movement, led by skipper Britt Assombalonga, was simply too good for Bournemouth.
It took the visitors a full 37 minutes to show any sort of threat and when they did, Marcus Bettinelli pulled off a good save to flick away a David Brook effort. Had that gone in, it would have been a great finish, but the visitors opened the scoring in scruffy fashion when Dominic Solanke stabbed home from a corner.
It was cruel on Boro, and in immediate reply Jonny Howson had shot blocked by Begovic and Fletcher wasn’t able to direct his header on target after a great cross from Paddy McNair.
The second half was a repeat of the first with Boro on the front foot and the visitors simply looking to hand in the game. Ashley Fletcher took a whack and was forced out of the game, but that presented the opportunity for substitute to Marcus Browne to have a decisive impact.
As Boro pressed, Assombalonga headed over from a Saville cross, before moments later, an Assombalonga free-kick almost yielded an equaliser, Saville converting from close range before the effort was ruled out by an offside flag.
Bettinelli spread himself well to deny Solanke on the first occasion that the visitors threatened after the break, before normal service was resumed as Boro penned the Cherries back once again, Marcus Browne the next to go close.
The outstanding McNair rattled the hands of Begovic, but moments later the deserved goal finally came when Browne converted a delightful cross to level matters.
Bettinelli was called upon to make a couple of saves in the dying minutes before the whistle signalled an end to a strong Boro performance.