SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY’S recent habit of recording goalless draws pegged Middlesbrough back at the Riverside.
Boro are three points off the play-off places after failing to record a first home win in the Championship under Tony Pulis.
Wednesday did not have too many chances themselves and only had one shot on target all night, but they still delivered a third consecutive goalless draw in the league under new boss Jos Luhukay.
Middlesbrough had intentions to attack more on home soil under Pulis, after failing to win either of their home league games under him, but Wednesday are growing in confidence under Luhukay.
The Dutch boss made six changes from the FA Cup win over Reading on Friday, including a first Championship appearance for Joel Pelupessy following his move from Heracles.
But the Owls wanted to improve on the two draws and showed an intention to cause problems, even if they found Middlesbrough’s defence resilient on the night.
Boro, who recalled top scorer Britt Assombalonga and key midfielder Stewart Downing, only had one decent chance in the first half too - in front of Jack Harrison who made the move on loan from Manchester City before the game after his switch from New York City.
Despite the best attacking efforts of Adama Traore to alter things, there was still a lack of threat posed to the visitors’ goal.
Pulis was keen to see more from his team in the final third and things might have gone more smoothly had Grant Leadbitter’s inswinging corner flown straight in rather than being tipped away by Joe Wildsmith.
Traore, clearly enjoying life under Pulis, was dangerous down the right. He powered past two Wednesday shirts, delivered a fantastic back post cross for Patrick Bamford’s header to force a save out of Wildsmith.
That was in the 12th minute and that was as close as either side came in the first half to finding the net. Wednesday showed plenty of intention down the flanks but were unable to test goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Bamford also went close after the restart. Traore was the creator again, rolling a ball into the area where his team-mate was on hand to control, turn and side foot an effort over the bar.
Assombalonga’s first chance came after the hour when he could not get an effort on target when Ben Gibson’s downward header from Leadbitter’s free-kick dropped invitingly for him at the near post.
Middlesbrough’s failure to score increased the nerves in the Riverside and Sheffield Wednesday started to push on in search of a winner.
George Boyd forced Randolph into a save and that led to the introduction of Rudy Gestede, Martin Braithwaite and Adam Clayton for Middlesbrough.
The closest the hosts came to winning it late on was when Daniel Ayala headed a Downing delivery down and wide and then Braithwaite’s low strike was held by Wildsmith.