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Match Report: Middlesbrough 0-0 Crystal Palace

Sunday 5th February 2012
Boro drew for the third game on the bounce in all competitions in Arctic conditions at the Riverside Stadium.
The home side fielded two changes from the draw at Leicester in mid-week with Barry Robson and Scott McDonald joining the Teessider's already large injury list, Joe Bennett and Kevin Thomson were recalled to the starting 11 in their place. Palace also made two changes from their mid-week game with Brighton, with Paddy McCarthy and Darren Ambrose replacing Sean Scannell and Paul McShane.

The hosts started brightly and nearly took the lead when visiting keeper Speroni spilled a Tony McMahon cross, but the Palace number one recovered well and scooped the ball over the bar.

The visitors started to gain control of the game as the first half progressed but they were nearly caught out when Lukas Jutkiewicz saw a close range header cleared off the line well by Dikgacoi at the back post.

Wilfried Zaha was starting to cause the Boro defence problems on the right and he came close with two long range efforts after some neat build up in the Palace midfield.

The away side were looking dangerous on the counter attack and Jermaine Easter got on the end of a Jonathan Parr cross and brought the best out of England Under 21 keeper Jason Steele who pulled off a fine save. The Boro shot stopper was again called in to action minutes later when Chris Martin's 25 yard effort look destined for the net, but Steele just managed to turn the ball round the post.

Early in the second half Marvin Emnes dragged his long range shot wide in what proved to his last contribution as he was replaced by youngster Curtis Main who has been prolific in recent months for Middlesbrough reserves.

The visitors were slow starters in the second half as they were in their first but as in the first they created some good early openings.

Steele had to be at his best again to deny Zaha and Martin's powerful efforts from the edge of the area as the visitors continued to look the more threatening.

Zaha was again involved down the right and he thought he had earned the visitors a penalty when he was brought down by Boro left-back Joe Bennett, but referee adjudged the offence to have taken place outside the area.

In the latter stages Steele was called in to action one more time and he could only parry Easter's decent long-range effort but Darren Ambrose fired over the rebound.

The visitors were nearly made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal in the closing moments when Lukas Jutkiewicz was set up by a neat turn from the bright Main, but the former Coventry man's powerful strike was turned away over by Speroni to ensure the visitors got a share of the spoils.
Matthew Nixon

Total articles: 28

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