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Match Reports

Lions earn Riverside point

Our take from Teesside...

20 November 2021

Middlesbrough and Millwall drew 1-1 at the Riverside Stadium in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon.

Matt Crooks scored the first goal of the Chris Wilder era on 15 minutes, but Sol Bamba's own-goal levelled the scores on 27 minutes.

Gary Rowett named Ryan Leonard at right-wing-back in his starting XI, with Jed Wallace and Mason Bennett supporting Benik Afobe in attack. George Evans, meanwhile, returned to the bench after injury.

Backed by a strong crowd, Boro started on the front foot and fashioned a chance in the very first minute, but Bartosz Bialkowski was equal to Duncan Watmore's attempt.

Paddy McNair was the next to have a go at goal, but he was denied by an expert challenge from the returning Shaun Hutchinson, before Marc Bola tested Bialkowski to no avail.

On 15 minutes, however, the opening goal was scored as Watmore's deflected cross looped into the air, allowing Crooks a simple header home at the back post to put the hosts in front.

Not content with the opener, Andraz Sporar then worked Bialkowski once more shortly after the goal, only for the stopper to save and Crooks to head wide, with the tricky Watmore the next to have an effort in a dominant spell for hosts - Bialkowski equal once more.

The Lions then levelled the scoring in controversial circumstances just before the half-hour mark. After the referee decided not to go with his linesman and give a foul to Middlesbrough at one end of the field, Millwall were able to break down the other end and find a route to goal through Benik Afobe. His shot was saved by Luke Daniels, but the ball then bounced across the line via the legs of Bamba.

Bialkowski was yet again involved as Middlesbrough looked to regain the advantage through Marcus Tavenier and Bola, but the Pole was on top, with Billy Mitchell having the final chance of a crazy half as he fired towards goal, only to find his effort blocked and his looping header on the rebound dropping onto the top of the net.

The Lions had a couple of half-chances in the opening stages of the second-half, but a combination of Afobe and Jed Wallace were unable to test Daniels. Bialkowski, on the other hand, lived up to expectations once again with 54 minutes on the clock, as the goalkeeper expertly tipped a powerful Tavernier effort over the crossbar.

Bola fired wide and Afobe failed to gain a clean connection on the ball as both sides probed for a winner in a much-less eventful second period, but after Middlesbrough substitute Onel Hernandez had two bites of the cherry in the latter stages - Scott Malone blocking both - the golden chance fell to goalscorer Crooks.

However, after Bamba's flick-on left him one-on-one with Bialkowski, he sliced his effort horribly - but fortunately, to Millwall's minds - wide.

With seven minutes of stoppage-time in the first-half and three more at the end, 100 minutes of football were played on Teesside, but both sides could only find the net once, settling for a draw.

Middlesbrough: Daniels, Tavernier, Sporar (Coburn 46'), Peltier, Howson, McNair, Watmore (Ikpeazu 87'), Bamba, Crooks, Bola, Jones (Hernandez 71'). Subs not used: Lumley, Dijksteel, Taylor, Siliki.

Scorer: Crooks 15'

Booking: Howson

Millwall: Bialkowski, Hutchinson, Cooper, J. Wallace (Smith 85'), Malone, Saville, Leonard, Bennett (Ojo 67'), Afobe (Kieftenbeld 81'), B. Mitchell, Ballard. Subs not used: Long, M. Wallace, Evans, Bradshaw.

Scorer: Bamba og 27'

Booking: Bennett, Cooper

Referee: Oliver Langford

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