Paddy McNair's first goal of the season brought Cardiff’s winning run to an end as Boro halted the Championship’s form team at the Riverside.
The 82nd minute equaliser was just reward for Boro against a Cardiff side who had taken the lead from a long throw but offered nothing else in terms of a goal threat.
Boss Neil Warnock saw his side throw everything at a team who had arrived on the back of a six-game winning run that had thrust themselves into contention as serious play-off challengers – and having earlier been undone by a single long throw, Boro will have been disappointed that McNair’s goal didn’t prove to be the winner in a game of few chances.
Warnock had re-shuffled his pack after the midweek defeat at the hands of Bristol City with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing coming in to make his first start against his former club. Marcus Tavernier also made his return from injury, and Britt Assombalonga came back into the starting line-up.
Boro dominated much of the contest and Cardiff’s only moment of note before their first half goal came when Harry Wilson tested Marcus Bettinelli with a free-kick.
Dillon Phillips had been called upon inside the opening few minutes to claw away an in-swinging corner from Paddy McNair, and the Northern Ireland international also sent a free-kick wide of the mark.
Boro came close to taking the lead when Assombalonga drilled in a shot from an angle, but a defensive deflection took it against the post. Duncan Watmore also had a shot blocked, but for all the home side’s territorial advantage, it was the visitors who snatched the lead.
The goal was trademark Cardiff. Vaulks delivered a powerful throw from the right-hand side and Morrison got the vital touch to head it into the corner.
A goal to the good, Cardiff were able to keep numbers behind the ball in the second period. The visitors aerial strength restricted Boro in terms of balls into the box, and Cardiff were set up as a tough nut to crack as they looked to protect their lead.
As Boro sought a leveller, a fortunate headed clearance from Neeskens Kebano cross spared the visitors before a vital defensive block when Marvin Johnson drilled the ball back in.
The equaliser did come, though, and it was fully deserved. Kebano and Djed Spence combined down the right before the ball into the box caught Cardiff short, and McNair was on hand to apply the finishing touch by smashing the ball into the roof of the net.
Boro continued to dominate but Cardiff hung on to their point.