It was a similar old story for Middlesbrough on Tuesday night as they huffed and puffed but couldn’t quite find a way to turn a plucky draw into a valuable three points.
Aitor Karanka’s side monopolised possession against an in-form West Brom side at the Riverside. However, after falling behind to James Morrison’s opener, Boro couldn’t kick-on following Alvaro Negredo 17th minute equaliser from the penalty spot.
In the end a 1-1 was probably a fair result, while the visitors could easily have nicked it after Matt Phillips and Salomon Rondon saw efforts rebound off the post in the second half.
Karanka was pleased with the way his side moved the ball and created chances, and there was plenty to be admired about Boro’s speed and tempo in the opening 45 minutes.
Even so their shyness in front of goal was once again a major concern, as the Teessiders’ recorded their ninth draw of the season.
Traore steps up after inconsistent start
Adama Traore burst onto the Premier League scene with an eye-catching performance at Arsenal back in October.
His remarkable pace and power allows him to glide past defenders at will, though his final product has often let him down when he reaches the opposition’s penalty area.
Against West Brom, Traore showed signs of vast improvement, taking up dangerous positions on the right and delivering some accurate crosses into the box.
At 21-years-old Traore is still a raw talent, but after Boro’s failure to sign another winger in the transfer window, the Spanish tyro is likely to be a key player in the Teessiders in their battle to avoid relegation.
Early set plays proving costly
Karanka may have been pleased with his sides’ overall performance, however he couldn’t hide frustration after another early set piece left Boro on the backfoot.
Against West Ham in their last league game, Boro failed to pick up Andy Carroll, who opened the scoring from a corner after just nine minutes.
Another early goal cost Karanka’s side here, when the hosts failed to deal with Chris Brunt’s inviting free kick in the fifth minute.
The ball eventually fell to former Boro midfielder Morrison, who lashed home from the edge of the area to open the scoring.
Boro are the lowest scorers in the division with just 19 goals, so they really can’t afford to be giving teams a head start.
Lots of possession, not many chances
As Karanka was quick to point out, Boro played some decent football in the first half, winning the ball back swiftly and dominating possession for large spells.
Adam Clayton protected the back four admirably at the base of a midfield three, while Marten De Roon charged back and forth from one penalty area to the other.
Negredo battled hard on his own upfront, yet Boro still seemed to lack an element ambition, hesitating to push men forward and go for the win.
As expected West Brom were well organised and looked to break in numbers on the counter attack.
However, for all Boro’s possession, the hosts only managed three shots on target – two less than the visitors.
The draw means that Boro are now only two points above the relegation zone and haven’t won for six league games.
Their inability to turn draws into wins, especially at home, could come back to bite them.