Tony Pulis paid tribute to Middlesbrough keeper Darren Randolph for earning his side a 1-1 draw against Derby in a Championship encounter featuring two own goals.
The Rams dominated the first half at the Riverside, but Frank Lampard’s side were unable to add to the own goal by Boro defender George Friend after 19 minutes despite cutting through the home team’s defence on numerous occasions.
Randolph made a handful of saves to keep the score down, the most eye-catching seeing him push away a Harry Wilson volley.
And with six minutes to go, with Boro having mounted some late pressure, Derby’s Jayden Bogle also scored past his own goalkeeper, volleying into the net when attempting to clear.
It was enough to earn Boro a point that saw them go top of the Championship table ahead of the late kick-off between Leeds and Nottingham Forest.
Pulis said: “In the first half we started really, really poor, really on the back foot. We did some work this week about getting up to the ball and we started really on the back foot.
“We got really sloppy and it just gave them the momentum.
“Randolph has kept us in the game and at 1-0 you’ve always got an opportunity and a chance.
“Second half, the game wasn’t as fluid but we ground it out.
“We worked very, very hard. The lads had a right go and I’ve been involved in games when we’ve played exceptionally well and lost and played exceptionally well and not won a game, so today we haven’t played that well but we’ve ground out a point.”
Lampard knew that Derby should have been further ahead at the break, his team paying the price for not taking their chances.
He said: “We should have the game in the first half really, we played outstandingly well, the only thing short in our game in the first half was the two or three goals it warranted.
“And the fact is when you are 1-0 up at Middlesbrough you know it’s the most dangerous scoreline because they will go even more direct to try and get back in the game and I thought we dealt with that brilliantly too.
“People were throwing bodies on the line and it was just unfortunate really that it goes in at the end. It’s a bit of a freak goal.
“They will say they had some opportunities but the clear opportunities were ours in the game.”
On Bogle’s own goal, Lampard said: “I spoke to him straight away on the pitch and he shouldn’t be down at all.
“It’s no reflection on him at all, as I say it was a freak goal. All of the players were outstanding it was just unfortunate for Jayden Bogle.
“He’s quietly upset as you can imagine. It was just a combination of long balls into the box and it’s unfortunate for him.”