JORDAN HUGILL’S stoppage-time penalty salvaged a point as Middlesbrough’s home problems were once again evident in a 1-1 draw with Millwall.

The Teessiders remain in fifth position in the table, but have now claimed just two home Championship victories since the middle of September. What were the main talking points from their latest outing at the Riverside?


They say the best things come to those who wait, and that has certainly been the case with Middlesbrough this season. Seven of Boro’s 31 league goals have come in the final ten minutes of a game, and all but one of those goals have changed the outcome of the match.

Millwall have been on the receiving end of Boro’s last-gasp goalscoring heroics twice – Martin Braithwaite and George Friend scored in the final three minutes to scramble a 2-2 draw at the Den on the opening weekend of the season – and the Teessiders have also claimed late successes against West Brom, Bolton, Derby and Birmingham.

It would be better if they didn’t have to leave things so late, but an ability to keep on scrapping to the final few minutes is a valuable quality in a league as relentless and competitive as the Championship.


It is hardly a secret that Boro need to make some signings. Tony Pulis has been bemoaning the lack of pace and attacking prowess in his squad since the start of the summer, but with the transfer deadline now just a week-and-a-half away, Rajiv van La Parra is the only player to have arrived on Teesside.

Pulis reiterated the need to make additions when he spoke after Saturday’s game, but added the caveat that Boro’s financial position means successful signings are far from guaranteed.

That is a worry. With Boro’s wage bill one of the highest in the Championship, players might have to leave before new faces can arrive. The clock is ticking though, with a scramble in the final couple of days of the window beginning to look increasingly likely.


With frustrations mounting, Britt Assombalonga has become something of a cause celebre for the Boro fans. On Saturday, the biggest cheer of the afternoon came when Assombalonga left the bench to replace Jonny Howson shortly after the hour mark.

Pulis clearly harbours serious reservations about Assombalonga’s work rate and ability to hold up the ball with his back to goal. Hence why Hugill has started ahead of him in the last four league games.

To be fair to Hugill, he has scored three goals in those four matches. But Assombalonga remains a more natural finisher and there will continue to be a clamour for him to return to the starting line-up unless the goals start to flow more freely from elsewhere.


Pulis’ decision to introduce van La Parra for Adam Clayton at the interval was a bold one, and it helped transform the game.

The Huddersfield loanee injected some much-needed pace, and while his dribbles didn’t always have a successful outcome, at least he was able to put Millwall’s defenders on the back foot as he looked to break into the penalty area.

“Raj did well coming on, and I was really pleased with him,” said Pulis. “But he’s nowhere near fit and there’s a bit of concern about making sure he doesn’t pick up an injury by doing too much. We have to be careful with that. But he showed signs that he can take people on and go past them. He can put people on the back foot.”


Having been a virtual ever-present for much of the season, Stewart Downing found himself on the substitutes’ bench for the third league game in a row at the weekend.

Interestingly, Saturday was the first time he had failed to start a home league game all season, but Pulis insists the veteran midfielder continues to fill a prominent position in his plans.

“I think Stewart is one of the best players I’ve worked with in respect of his ability and attitude,” said the Middlesbrough manager. But he’s 34 years of age and there’s a lot of games he’s played so far. Personally, I’ve got a lot of respect for Stewart.”