Middlesbrough 1 Birmingham City 1: Ashley Fletcher leaves it late to extend Boro’s home run

Middlesbrough's Ashley Fletcher netted equaliser.
Middlesbrough's Ashley Fletcher netted equaliser.
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Ashley Fletcher’s late equaliser enabled Middlesbrough to extend their unbeaten home run to eight Sky Bet Championship games as they claimed a 1-1 draw with Birmingham.

Lukas Jutkiewicz fired the visitors ahead in the first half as he marked his return to the Riverside with a neat headed finish.

But Fletcher earned Middlesbrough a point as he converted Marvin Johnson’s 81st-minute cross with a slick back-heel.

Boro enjoyed the better of a scrappy opening period, with Fletcher heading Djed Spence’s cross wide of the target and failing to find the target with another driven effort.

However, when the home side were given a golden opportunity to take the lead midway through the opening period, they were unable to take it. Gary Gardner conceded a penalty when he clipped Patrick Roberts’s legs, but Paddy McNair’s spot-kick was a nice height for Lee Camp to deal with.

Three minutes later, Jutkiewicz’s header fired Birmingham into the lead. Jeremie Bela swung over an inviting cross from the right, and the former Middlesbrough striker headed home.

Kerim Mrabti drilling a low strike against the outside of the post and Boro’s problems continued with Roberts and Dael Fry both succumbing to injuries.

Birmingham threatened again shortly before the hour mark as Kristian Pedersen looped a header onto the roof of the net.

Rudy Gestede came close to an equaliser with his first touch after leaving the bench, heading over from a corner, but Boro claimed a leveller with nine minutes left as Fletcher converted via a neat back-heel.

There was drama late on as Jutkiewicz put the ball into the net moments after referee Andy Woolmer brought play to a halt because Marcus Tavenier was down a head injury. The incident sparked a melee on the touchline that resulted in coaches Leo Percovich and Sean Rush both receiving red cards.

Middlesbrough: Pears, Howson, McNair, Fry (Wood-Gordon 37), Spence, Wing, Saville (Gestede 67), Johnson, Roberts (Tavernier 25), Fletcher, Nmecha. Unused substitutes: Mejias, Clayton, Reading, Liddle.

Birmingham: Camp, Colin, Roberts, Clarke-Salter, Pedersen, Davis, G Gardner, Bela (Bellingham 77), Mrbati (Crowley 62), Maghoma, Jutkiewicz. Unused substitutes: Montero, McEachran, Alvaro Gimenez, Trueman, Sunjic.

Referee: A Woolmer (Northamptonshire).