ON a night were Middlesbrough showed dominance and comfort throughout the game, the Riverside was left stunned as they threw away the victory in the dying embers of the game conceding two goals in five minutes against Preston North End.

Any lingering tiredness from the weekend’s runout crept into the game for Boro early doors.

Tom Barkhuizen jink his way passed Lee Peltier on the right hand side and flashed an inviting cross that evaded every man in the box. That was before the offer was replicated on the opposite wing when Alan Browne did exactly the same and almost fed Barkhuizen at the back post. A couple of early scares to liven Boro up.

Chris Wilder’s synonymous pressing game began to come through as Boro forced more of the pressure back onto Preston. They started to find gaps on the wings through Isaiah Jones and Marc Bola and the left back teed up Matt Crooks with a great chance on the edge of the box. He opened his body out with space in front of him and bent a goalbound effort which was brilliantly blocked by the head of Patrick Bauer.

From there, Boro began to boss the game but Preston forced the pressure back onto them and Marcus Tavernier had to make up ground on two occasions to deny them an opening.

A breakaway on the left saw Browne steamroll his way into the box and receive the ball only to be denied by Tavernier at the death. Moments later, Emil Riis Jakobson tried to force his way passed Tavernier and Lee Peltier and took a tumble in the box from a shove by Boro’s number seven. The Lilywhites penalty appeals were ignored by the referee.

Tavernier was covering every blade of grass and he found himself on the left hand side before whizzing the ball across the face of goal. Duncan Watmore was just inches away.

Just after the half hour mark, Boro made the breakthrough as their usual set piece taker was on the receiving end of a deal ball delivery.

Jonny Howson, on his 200th appearance for the club curling in a beautiful corner from the left that was met by Paddy McNair who’s firm header kissed the underside of the crossbar and nestled home. That was the Northern Irishman’s third goal of the season.

By the end of the first half, Preston might well have felt unlucky by the fact that they had a second strong penalty shout ignored by Andy Woolmer. Josh Earl broke free down the left and chopped by inside beating the sliding Isaiah Jones in the process, he went down claiming contact in the box but Woolmer was, once again, having none of it.

Apart from those appeals, that was about as much as Preston offered as Boro knocked the ball around really well in the closing stages. Watmore nearly capped off a good first half when his bending effort was tipped over the bar by keeper Daniel Iversen but nevertheless, Boro still had the lead and were looking good.

Chris Wilder’s side came out for the second half in a similar vein and after some patient build up play, they were inches from doubling their lead through the most unlikely source.

Peltier made an overlapping run on the left which was fed by Bola. He faked to cross with his left, chopped onto his right and lashed a shot off the underside of the bar and out. You definitely wouldn’t have expected that from the veteran defender before the game.

The chances were all coming through the home side and McNair was almost the architect and the finisher of his second of the game. After being fouled on the edge of the box following a bursting run, McNair took the responsibility but his bending effort was well saved by Iversen.

Andraz Sporar had been tireless all evening and was desperate for a goal. His hard work was almost rewarded when he drove low with a sight on goal in the box only for Iversen to deny Boro again diving low to his right.

As the second half wore on, we began to see a similar pattern to the weekend with Boro just starting to run out of steam. They were well on top but just couldn’t find the killer instinct to finish the game off.

For that, they were duly punished in spectacular style. A wicked delivery from the corner from Ben Whiteman was met by the head of Ched Evans who powered his header into the bottom right corner to bring the game level.

Boro responded with a worked move from the right as Onel Hernandez found Tavernier in the box. He lashed the ball off the Preston defender and Boro roared in frustration as a penalty didn’t go there way.

However, Preston went up the other end and looked to be through on goal only to be denied when Sol Bamba intercepted the cross. But then in a moment of madness, the veteran defender produced a horror show passing straight off the heels of McNair. The ball deflected into Jakobson’s path and he needed no second invitation to fire into the top left corner.

The Riverside was left stunned. From a position of complete comfort, Boro had completely thrown away three points as Chris Wilder lost his first game in charge of the club.