BRITT ASSOMBALONGA has been urged to play the patience game by head coach Jonathan Woodgate after the fit-again striker was unable to help prevent defeat at Brentford after emerging from the bench.

The forward came on as a substitute at Brentford, as Boro fell to a late Ollie Watkins strike despite equalising twice. The Congolese has been benched in the last two games since returning from injury, both times making a second half appearance.

Woodgate has seen Ashley Fletcher, who netted the second leveller at Griffin Park, flourish on his own in the final third on his own in the absence of Assombalonga in recent months.

And the Middlesbrough boss revealed his current selection dilemma up front.

He said “Ashley has done really well, I can’t leave him out because Britt is back.

“They’re both good players, Fletch has taken his opportunity.

“Britt has come back from injury, he’s only trained two weeks and he’s been coming off the bench.

“He’s ready to start.”

Boro gave a starting place to Harold Moukoudi, who joined on loan from Saint-Etienne on deadline day. Ravel Morrison, the other new player in before the transfer window shut, was named on the bench, and Woodgate felt it was too soon for the versatile playmaker to start in the Championship.

He added “He’s only trained Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, so it’s too early.

“Harold had composure, very good on the ball, quick, strong. He’s going to be a very good player, that kid.

“What pleased me was the performance more than anything. The result wasn’t there but it was a very good performance.

“The squad is getting better, there’s a few more players coming back so it’s getting even better.”

Middlesbrough made only one other change to the team that drew against Blackburn, with goalscorer Hayden Coulson replacing Lukas Nmecha after the wing-back’s goal against Rovers.

Brentford, flying high after their demolition of Hull last weekend, were unchanged, with their potent strikeforce of Bryan Mbuemo, Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma starting. Boro got off to a slow start, with the home side looking sharper and quicker in passing the ball, albeit without creating a clear-cut chance.

The hosts got the first real chance of the game, when Benrahma headed across goal for Josh Dasilva, only for the ball to hit the post and roll across the line. Dael Fry was on hand to clear the ball away.

Aynsley Pears had to direct a Benrahma shot away for a corner, but it was the following set piece that ultimately undone Boro. Julian Jeanvier just about put the ball over the line, following a scramble, which was awarded due to goal-line technology.

Middlesbrough remained under pressure, and it could have got worse if Mathias Jensen had not miscued his effort after Dasilva fed him in.

There was little attacking prowess from the visitors, although Marcus Tavernier forced David Raya to collect a strong strike after 34 minutes, after Marvin Johnson kept the ball in play.

After being on the backfoot for most of the first half, Middlesbrough took more control of the game in the second half. They almost levelled after a Johnson cross-cum-shot flew over Brentford keeper Raya and off the post, leaving defender Ethan Pinnock to clear.

The floodgates in the game finally gave way, in a six minute spell that saw three goals.

After increasing Boro pressure, their reward finally came two minutes before the hour mark. Lewis Wing struck from outside the area, and hit the post to the right of the outstretched Raya, who saw the ball deflect into the net.

Parity did not last for long though, as Mbuemo helped Brentford regain the lead two minutes later. His shot from distance hit the legs of Moukoudi which wrong-footed Pears.

The second equaliser came three minutes later, when Fletcher disposed of a cross by Tavernier.

Boro should have taken the lead on eighty minutes after substitute Assombalonga glanced a cross towards the goal, but a touch by Fletcher sent the ball over the bar.

To their credit, both teams were looking to leave Griffin Park with all three points, although the hosts were pressing more.

With three minutes of normal time remaining, the Middlesbrough back line was breached for the final time. Watkins lined up a cut-back from Christian Norgaard, and fired past Pears from 12 yards out, leaving Boro deflated and a vibrant home crowd ecstatic.

Leaving west London without a point was possibly harsh on the Teesiders, although Brentford manager Thomas Frank was impressed with the Boro efforts.

He said “Middlesbrough are a good side, they are better than the position in the league shows – they showed that again today.”