West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough played out a dull 0-0 draw at The Hawthorns on Sunday afternoon, with few clear cut chances to be had for either team in the drab affair, one that could only be described as the physical embodiment of the 'bore 0-0 draw'.
There was some notable team news for West Brom, Tony Pulis handing a start to 18-year-old Sam Field in midfield, whilst Saido Berahino again had to settle for a place on the bench as speculation regarding his future continues to mount.
The first half was a lifeless affair all in all, but there were a few chances as each side attempted to take an early lead, West Brom shading things.
Anthony Taylor was thrust into early action, forced to book Daniel Ayala for an ill-timed challenge on Brendan Galloway after just 80 seconds.
Galloway bright in first half devoid of chances
Galloway was involved in West Brom's first chance of the game, just after the 10 minute mark. The left-back played the ball in field to Darren Fletcher, who angled a superb first time pass over the top of the defence for James McClean, only for the winger to lose momentum with his first touch, Brad Guzan eventually making a comfortable save.
Alvaro Negredo, again employed in his favoured striking role by Aitor Karanka, was looking a threat on the break despite his depreciating pace. He turned Craig Dawson with a lovely dummy down the left hand side, but couldn't make good of it in the penalty area, Gareth McAuley across to cover.
Despite facing the challenge of Negredo, it was the Baggies who continued to shade the first half, despite the lack of chances on show.
Galloway, on loan from Everton, continued to look bright, forcing Guzan into a save with a driven effort before teeing Rondon up for what could well have been the opening goal, had the striker done better. Looking to meet a cross from the left, Rondon felt a little tug of his shirt from Ben Gibson, knocking him off balance somewhat as he only managed to get a slight glance on the ball.
Guzan, in for the injured Victor Valdes, wasn't doing much to suggest that he's the long term answer in goal for 'Boro, almost left red faced as he completely missed the ball when looking to claim a cross at the end of the half, only for his blushes to be spared as nobody got onto the end of it.
Second half follows suit as spoils are shared
Everyone in the ground was hoping that the second half would be different, but it didn't look good based on the start. Boro' did improve, Gaston Ramirez snatching at a chance and blasting wide after taking advantage of a McAuley slip, but there was little other than that until the hour mark, where changes began to be made, bar Craig Dawson nodding narrowly wide from a corner.
It was assumed that Berahino would come on to inject new life into the hosts, only for Pulis to instead plump for 17-year-old Jonathan Leko, replacing McClean as Berahino stayed sat on the bench.
Unfortunately for the youngster, injury struck him after just five minutes on the pitch, going down with an ankle problem. He jogged up and down the touchline once or twice, but it was clear that Leko wouldn't be able to continue, allowing Berahino the chance to enter the fray.
It took Middlesbrough 73 minutes to register their first shot on target, Antonio Barragan affored far too much space to cut inside across the box. The away fans were screaming for the defender to shoot, only for him to instead set up Cristhian Stuani from a tight angle, Ben Foster equal to his effort. Boro were seemingly growing in confidence, although that was dented a little as Stewart Downing spooned one over from distance.
Downing went closer as the game entered the final 10 minutes, shooting just wide from the edge of the area, still not enough for Karanka, who introduced David Nugent for a brief cameo.
It did turn into end-to-end stuff in the final few minutes, West Brom racing up the other end after that Downing effort, unlucky not to score as Ben Gibson's clearance bounced off two of his teammates and just away to safety.
However, there was no winner to be found, each side taking a point as the league heads into the international break.