MIDDLESBROUGH extended their unbeaten run to nine games but left Ewood Park frustrated at their failure to turn their near total domination into a victory.

Former Boro’ goalkeeper Aynsley Pears, who moved from the Riverside to Blackburn last month, frustrated Neil Warnock’s team with two notable second-half saves from Jonny Howson and Marcus Tavernier to ensure the match finished in a goalless stalemate.

Warnock will be delighted with another the clean sheet - their third in succession - against a team who went into the game as the Championship’s leading scorers.

But he will rue his team’s lack of a cutting edge in front of goal after seeing them bombard the Rovers penalty area for most of the game with shots and crosses.

It was only the second time in 11 away games since Warnock took over in June that Boro have failed to score.

Tony Mowbray, who played for and managed Boro, confessed before the game that he still holds the club close to his heart but he will be the first to admit his team got away with one last night.

The two teams went into the game on the back of contrasting fortunes. While Boro were looking for a third straight win Rovers had lost four of their previous five.

Boro received a big boost to their hopes of extending their fine defensive record when Championship leading scorer and former Newcastle striker Adam Armstrong - who has hit 10 goals in all competitions this season - was ruled out of the Rovers team by injury after a run of 95 consecutive appearances.

And Rovers missed him badly as they failed to trouble Marcus Bettinelli in the entire 90 minutes.

Boro threatened right from the kick-off and were clearly hoping to catch Rovers cold.

In their last home game against Reading Mowbray’s team had conceded after only nine seconds and were 3-1 down after 18 minutes and they were relieved not to suffer a similar fate last night.

In the first minute Britt Assombalonga’s flick from Marc Bola’s dangerous cross was turned behind for a corner. And when Rovers only partially cleared the corner Jonny Howson’s shot was saved by Pears. It set for the tone for a first half that Boro dominated but failed to make the breakthrough.

Assombalonga had the best chance when he headed over from Paddy McNair’s corner. George Saville also headed off target from Marcus Tavernier’s cross.

Without Armstrong, Rovers fielded a little large strike force - two giants in Sam Gallagher and Ben Brereton and two diminutive types in Liverpoool loanee Harvey Elliott and Tyrhys Dolan.

But it left them outnumbered in midfield and with McNair often pushing forward, Boro kept Rovers penned back in their own half for long periods. They had several long range shots but time and again Rovers defenders put their bodies on the line to block.

Bettinelli didn’t have a serious save to make in the first 45 minutes with Rovers’ best effort being a long-range pile driver from central defender Derrick Williams that flew over the bar in first half added time.

It was no surprise that Mowbray bolstered his midfield by sending on Joe Rothwell for Dolan for the second half but it made little difference to the pattern of the game.

Boro continued to control the game and carve out the best chances George Saville had a close range effort deflected for a corner before Pears made two fine saves to deny Boro a deserved lead.

First he blocked an effort from Howson after McNair’s free-kick found him at the far post, then he tipped over a Tavernier flick from Anfernee Dijksteel’s cross.