A poor all-round performance from Middlesbrough ended the club’s play-off hopes as they failed to find the net against already-relegated Doncaster Rovers at the Riverside.
Boro’ made one change from the side that won at Derby at the weekend, with Julio Arca replacing the injured Faris Haroun in midfield. Doncaster made two changes from the side that was defeated by Portsmouth in controversial fashion at the weekend, with Sam Hird and Shelton Martis coming in for Habib Beye and Giles Barnes.
Julio Arca came close for the hosts early on. Marvin Emnes cut back to Lukas Jutkiewicz and the Polish striker fed Arca, but the Argentinean’s powerful volley came back off the post.
Jutkiewicz then finished Robson’s lob only to see the referee’s assistant raise his flag and deny him his 4th goal in a Middlesbrough shirt.
Donny keeper Woods had to be alert to deny Jutkiewicz again on two occasions; firstly he spectacularly tipped the former Coventry man’s bullet header over the bar and he then had to deal with a tamer effort from the edge of the box as Boro’ continued to press.
Doncaster then went up the other end and were denied by what looked like a stone-wall penalty. Striker Chris Brown muscled his way in to the box only to be felled by a clumsy Seb Hines tackle, yet referee Darren Drysdale waved away the protests to the dismay of the Doncaster players.
Doncaster then had a rare chance, but Gillett’s 12-yard snap-shot was comfortably dealt with by Boro’ keeper Steele.
As the game entered the second half, Boro’ continued to pile forward but Jutkiewicz slipped when presented with a clear chance on goal. Australian striker Scott McDonald then missed arguably the best chance of the game when he somehow nodded Justin Hoyte’s cross from the left wide with the goal at his mercy.
James Coppinger blasted a long range free-kick aimlessly over the bar for the visitors, whilst Boro’ increased the intensity in the search for a winner. However, despite the number of chances they created, the Teessiders lacked a cutting edge. Jutkiewicz again demonstrated this when he intelligently dribbled in to the box, only for his strike to end up in the stands.
Substitute Adam Hammill then saw his chip hit the bar and teenager Curtis Main saw his effort well saved by Woods as Boro’ were frustrated again and again.
Despite being relegated at the weekend and having nothing to lose, Doncaster started to use time wasting tactics in the final minutes to the bewilderment of the home fans however the hosts came close on one more occasion. Jutkiewicz rose highest at the back post and nodded the ball towards the bottom corner, but Gary Woods just got down in time to earn Doncaster Rovers a point.
The result leaves Middlesbrough 4 points adrift of the play-offs with two games remaining.