Middlesbrough’s quickfire second half comeback saw them draw 2-2 with Bristol City, losing further ground on the automatic promotion places in the Championship.
Boro failed to have any shots on target up until the moment they scored their first goal through Aaron Ramsey in the 58th minute, after some poor defending had seen Bristol City score either side of the break.
Sam Bell (45+1) slotted home on the stroke of half-time, before Harry Cornick (49) turned home from Nahki Wells’ cross.
But Middlesbrough scored twice in six minutes to haul themselves level. Ramsey’s diving header pulled a goal back before Matt Crooks (64) netted the equaliser.
It ends a run of two successive Championship defeats for Boro, who remain eight points away from the automatic promotion places. Burnley and Sheffield United – who currently occupy those spots – play at 8pm, live on Sky Sports.
Bristol City move up two places into 13th with 53 points.
How Boro came back to secure a point
Both sides had massive chances in the opening 15 minutes. Darragh Lenihan twice denied Cornick in quick succession, blocking the first effort with his body before booting away the second. At the other end, Chuba Akpom sent a free header wide of the target.
Some good pressing from Wells down the right wing then allowed Cornick to wriggle through before squaring the ball to Andi Weimann. However, the forward saw his attempt smothered by the oncoming Zack Steffen.
Although there was good play across the pitch, the chances were less frequent. Ryan Giles and Jay Dasilva fired over from range. Crooks also sent a fine header from Jonny Howson’s corner looping over the crossbar.
But on the stroke of half-time, Bristol City took the lead. Cornick nipped through once again to retrieve possession for the hosts, and the Middlesbrough defence never recovered. He slotted the ball through for Bell, who swept home past Steffen.
The second half was laden with goals. Bristol City made it 2-0 shortly after the break as Middlesbrough defence was once again found wanting. Bell saw his shot from the left palmed away by Steffen, but Wells was lurking to collect the rebound. His squared pass cross the goal-line was then turned home by Cornick.
But the Middlesbrough comeback was to swiftly follow. Tommy Smith was played in behind on the right wing, sending an inviting ball into the area. Ramsey was lurking at the back post to send a diving header past Max O’Leary.
Four minutes later, and Boro were back on level terms. It was a lovely give-and-go between Akpom and Ramsey, with the latter slotting the ball through for Crooks. He then easily slotted past the goalkeeper to blow the tie wide open.
It continued it be a fast-paced, end-to-end game as both sides hunted for the winner. In the 87th minute, a Matty James free kick found Zak Vyner towards the back post, but the ball hit him on the chest before flying over the crossbar.
Middlesbrough thought they had scored a late winner too – but a thunderous Cameron Archer strike was correctly ruled out for offside as the points were shared at Ashton Gate.
Bristol City’s Nigel Pearson:
“We played well and I’m disappointed for the players that we didn’t take all three points because they put a lot of effort in. There first goal came from us not tracking runners and the second because we made a poor decision in not clearing the ball into row Z. We brought in Harry Cornick for his work-rate and because he gives us a different style of striker. Today he has scored a goal and registered an assist.
“We know there are areas in which we need to strengthen. Middlesbrough are a very good side and they probably also think they could have won. Our squad is not far away from being able to challenge for play-off places. We have been too inconsistent at times this season and we still have problems getting the balance right. We need to be harder to beat. Successful sides are built on being solid at the back, but we have gone from being a side without an identity to one that is very energetic and play with a lot of honesty.”
Middlesbrough’s Michael Carrick:
“I thought Matt had given his all and was about to make changes when he scored. He is a very important player for us, as is Aaron Ramsey and their goals showed the character we have, which will be needed in the games ahead. I am more pleased with the way we fought back than the result. It was a tough game and showed again how hard it is to earn points in the Championship.
“We played some really good football and the overall performance pleased me. It is just the fine details that are costing us and we need to work on them. After Matt’s goal I thought we would go on to win it. Cameron Archer’s finish at the end was fantastic, but apparently he was just offside. It’s important that the team never know when they are beaten and they showed that quality in not losing heart at two goals down.”
Player of the match – Sam Bell
Bristol City head to Watford on Saturday in the Championship; kick-off 3pm. Middlesbrough will be back on Sky Sports on Friday as they host Norwich in the Championship; kick-off 8pm.