Boro held by Stoke

Middlesbrough missed the chance to go back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship following an entertaining goalless draw at Stoke.

Gary Rowett’s powerful Potters created numerous clear-cut chances but failed to breach the most watertight defence in the English Football League – who have conceded just eight league goals so far this season.

Stoke’s star-studded front three of Benik Afobe, Tom Ince and Saido Berahino all had decent chances to find the back of the net.

Jack Butland and Darren Randolph pulled off a string of fine saves to keep the game goalless.

Irishman James McClean, who was booed onto the field, came off the bench towards the end without a poppy on his Stoke shirt.

Ince powered forward for the Potters and played in Afobe only for his shot to deflect over.

Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross also missed the target from a corner.

Butland’s first fine save came when he kept out Martin Braithwaite from the edge of the area.

And just two minutes later the England keeper produced a super stop to deny Stewart Downing’s curling effort.

Former West Brom striker Berahino did well to cut on his right foot before bending his effort just past the post.

Randolph spared Boro’s blushes when he headed a goal-bound back-pass off the line just after the restart.

And just before the hour Randolph was called into action once again, this time to catch Shawcross’ bullet header after a teasing Ince cross.

Butland produced the best save of the match to deny Jordan Hugill after the hour.

The West Ham loanee, who joined the London club from Preston for a fee in the region of £8million in January, was bearing down on goal and was only kept out by Butland’s legs.

A timely fingertip from Randolph stopped McClean’s dangerous cross finding fellow substitute Peter Crouch inside the six-yard box late on.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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