MIDDLESBROUGH were frustrated by a dogged Reading display as Aitor Karanka’s promotion-chasers were held to a 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium.

Boro were kept out by a combination of poor finishing – Adam Reach and Daniel Ayala both spurning golden opportunities – and inspired goalkeeping from Reading’s Adam Federici as the visitors could not make their dominance count for anything more than a point.

The draw leaves Boro comfortably in the play-off places and one point closer to league leaders Bournemouth, who lost 2-1 at home to Norwich City.

Karanka’s side edged the chances in a tentative first half. While the visitors were comfortable and composed, Reading looked the nervier side, and it appeared as though Boro would take a first-half lead when Adam Reach blazed over from point-blank range on 18 minutes.

Reach’s chance came courtesy of some sublime play from Patrick Bamford, who skipped through the Royals’ midfield to find Albert Adomah who crossed for the winger; and Bamford almost got on the scoresheet himself when he brought a decent stop from Adam Federici seconds after the Reach chance.

Tomas Kalas made his debut for Karanka’s side after signing on loan from Chelsea, and settled straight into his new team with some decent contributions from a right-back position.

The Czech international linked up well with Adomah on the half-hour, playing a one-two with the Ghanaian before seeing his pass across the face of goal cut out to safety.

Reading started the second half with the bit between their teeth and went close to taking the lead when Simon Cox brought a save out of Dimi Konstantopoulos from a goalmouth scramble.

Adomah went close with a header from Grant Leadbitter’s free-kick but Federici was more than equal to it, pawing away to safety.

A tackle on Jordan Obita by substitute Lee Tomlin, for which the Boro forward earned a booking, woke the game up a bit, and Reading enjoyed a spell of position which came to nothing.

Boro had their chances to win the game late on, Bamford striking the crossbar with a fine effort from distance on 85 minutes, then the best chance of all came from the resultant corner, where the ball fell to Ayala a yard out after another spectacular save by Federici – the Spaniard could only scoop over the bar.

READING: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita; Mackie (Karacan 87), Williams, Norwood (Guthrie 67), Robson-Kanu; Pogrebnyak (Blackman 57), Cox. Subs: Andersen, Kelly, Cooper, Taylor.

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Konstantopoulos; Kalas, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Adomah, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Reach (Kike 81); Bamford, Vossen (Tomlin 62). Substitutes: Mejias, Husband, Wildschut, Omeruo, Veljkovic.

Attendance: 17,131 (1,880)