LEWIS WING emerged from the bench to ensure Middlesbrough’s new recruits didn’t start life at the Riverside Stadium with a defeat.

Marcus Browne and Marc Bola, signed in the last 72 hours from West Ham and Blackpool respectively speaking, both got encouraging minutes under their belts for the first time as Boro players.

And it required a stunning free-kick from Wing, a product of the northern league scene, to level matters with 21 minutes ago after Denis Bouanga had converted a debatable penalty to give St Etienne the lead two minutes earlier.

There was plenty of promising play from Middlesbrough against a French team that finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season, just behind the division’s big guns, to provide head coach Jonathan Woodgate with food for thought ahead of Friday’s Championship opener at Luton Town.

Amongst that positivity was Browne’s endeavour down the left flank on his first appearance since joining from West Ham, having spent last season on loan at Oxford United.

He also went close with an early free-kick he won himself when he curled a yard over from 20 yards, shortly before an effort from similar distance when Britt Assombalonga’s strike had to be tipped over for a corner by goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.

Young full-back Hayden Coulson was always dangerous when he adventured forward and he has given Woodgate plenty to think about ahead of Friday’s opening game at Luton.

Even though left-back Bola was only introduced at the break to slot in at left-back, Coulson was not the man to make way and he was merely moved up to the left-wing role which allowed Browne to swap flanks for a bit longer.

St Etienne went close themselves in the first half when Harold Moukouni’s free-kick was headed against the bar by centre-back Wesley Fafana with six minutes remaining. After the restart, Bouanga also found the side-netting after beating his man.

The visitors, who will play Newcastle next weekend, took the lead. Ryan Shotton was adjudged to have brought down substitute Lois Diony, seconds after he was introduced, even though it looked more of a tangle on the edge of the box. The dangerous Bouanga did the rest.

The lead didn’t last long. While the Middlesbrough bench remonstrated, the players attacked and won their own soft free-kick on the edge of the St Etienne box. Wing, another substitute, struck hard and low inside Ruffier’s bottom right corner.

After that there were opportunities at both ends. After Bola, Shotton and McNair had all seen goalbound shots blocked, Boro’s substitute goalkeeper Aynsley Pears had to make a strong save to turn away Romain Hamouma’s strike at his near post.

Wing also had another effort that shaved the woodwork after a decent save from Ruffier, but in the end Middlesbrough had to end pre-season with a draw.

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-3-2-1): Mejias (Pears 46), Howson, Ayala, Shotton, Coulson (McNair 60); Clayton, Tavernier, Saville; Johnson (Bola 46), Browne (Wing 60); Assombalonga (Spence 77). Subs (not used): Stubbs, Wood, Reading, Fletcher, Wearne, Malley.