Jordan Archer saved a second-half penalty as Boro played out an entertaining draw with Luton Town.
Neil Warnock made a single change from the starting XI that beat Sheffield Wednesday a week ago, Hayden Coulson replacing Chuba Akpom with the striker not part of the travelling party.
Boro survived a string of early corners swung in by the home side, then Coulson created the game’s first real opportunity at the other end. The youngster showed good chest control to collect at the Hatters back post, only to see his cutback towards Grant Hall intercepted.
Hall was then called into action in defence, heading behind as Harry Cornick flighted a cross in the direction of the lurking James Collins.
It was a further Luton corner that led to the first goal. James Bree delivered into the area, and Kal Naismith’s header was diverted onto the crossbar by Jordan Archer but Glen Rea was on hand to bundle home from a matter of inches.
Boro’s response, though, was instantaneous. The ball was worked to the left flank and Marvin Johnson, who picked out Duncan Watmore with his cross into the area. Our top scorer glanced a header goalwards, and it was carried beyond his own goalkeeper by Naismith.
The Teessiders then enjoyed our best spell of the half. Neeskens Kebano looked threatening whenever he could get to the byline, twice shifting beyond Naismith without being able to deliver the telling cross, and Yannick Bolasie caused a moment of confusion in the Luton area when his ball in led to a momentary mix-up between Simon Sluga and skipper Sonny Bradley.
An open first 45 also saw further chances for the home side, too, James Collins hooking over with an acrobatic effort before Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu should have put Nathan Jones’ side ahead. The midfielder was slipped into space inside the Boro box, but as he attempted to check back inside Paddy McNair the Northern Ireland international got an important toe in to prod the ball away from danger.
Set pieces continued to be an outlet for the hosts in the second period, and Collins flicked narrowly wide with his head from a Hatters free-kick.
Bolasie then went close again for Boro when he smashed over tight angle having being fed into the channel by Watmore.
Kebano once more carved an opening when he glided past an opponent from out wide, and this time his cut back did find a Boro shirt - but George Saville’s shot was blocked, Luton also getting a body in the way of Marvin Johnson’s sweetly struck volley on the follow-up.
The Hatters were adamant they should have had a penalty when Elijah Adebayo battled past Marc Bola and went to ground, but referee Jeremy Simpson waved away the protests.
Minutes later, they did have one, this time McNair the guilty party as Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall cut inside him and hit the turf. But Jordan Archer came to Boro’s rescue, getting down well to his left to deny Collins from the spot. There was a half-chance for Mpanzu in the aftermath but his wild effort flew over.
Having ridden the storm somewhat, Boro came forward again, and Bolasie met Bola’s smart delivery with his head but flicked it narrowly over.
And in the game’s closing moments, Kebano found Saville again with a low ball into the area, only for the midfielder’s effort to come down and out off the crossbar.
The game wasn’t done, though, and after home substitute Sam Nombe was inches away from applying the vital touch at one end, his teammate Matty Pearson came close to nodding past his own keeper at the other but managed to lift it over the crossbar.