Matt Crooks’ double saw late show specialists Boro turn it around against Reading.

On an afternoon when things got tough for Boro at the Riverside, Chris Wilder’s side dug in to make it five wins in a row.

The Boro manager gave a debut to Aaron Connolly up front, while another of Boro’s loan arrivals Folarin Balogun was on the bench.

Reading, beaten 7-0 at home to Fulham in the week, were understandably cautious from the outset, and the first 45 was dominated by Boro trying to break down their Berkshire opponents.

There were 25 minutes on the clock before the game’s first meaningful opportunity, when Jonny Howson took aim from distance and saw a heavily-deflected drive trickle just the wrong side of Luke Southwood’s post.

Five minutes later, Boro went close again, when Isaiah Jones sent low ball in from the right which was inch-perfect for Andraz Sporar who had momentarily escaped his markers. Sporar’s effort was well saved by Southwood, and the loose ball cannoned off a Reading man and the foot of the post before being hooked clear.

In a rare first half opening for the visitors, Junior Hoilett drifted in from the right flank and brought a save from Joe Lumley at his front post, but Boro were immediately back on the front foot, and Connolly had his first sight of goal when he broke forward and sent a shot curling narrowly over.

The debutant would threaten again twice more before the break, prodding another Jones cross just wide then forcing Southwood into action again in first-half stoppage time.

Reading were more aggressive in their approach to the second half, and Tom Dele-Bashiru fired an early warning sign when he drifted forward and sent a shot into the side netting.

On the hour mark, Dael Fry was required to produce an excellent block to deny John Swift, who had found space in front of goal.

And shortly after, Reading did take the lead. A floated cross was stood up for Andy Carroll to attack, and the striker’s looping header floated back across Lumley’s goal and nestled in the far corner.

Folarin Balogun had been introduced for his debut moments before Reading’s opener, replacing Connolly, and Duncan Watmore and Josh Coburn would later join him and Sporar at the top end as Boro went all out in pursuit of a way back in.

Crooks came close to one with 70 minutes played, as the ball set up nicely for him on the edge of the box and he drilled it cleanly but narrowly wide. Sporar was then denied by a good save from Southwood, springing left to push away the Slovenian’s goal-bound header.

Boro were all out for a leveller, and it was Crooks who was to provide it, rising highest in the Royals box and getting enough on his header to beat Southwood.

It looked for a time like a point apiece would have to satisfy the Teessiders, but Boro’s never-say-die attitude prevailed yet again as Isaiah Jones showed quick feet out wide before delivering a cross for Crooks to power home his second and send the Boro fans wild.