Bialkowski in excellent form again as Town hold promotion chasing Boro at a packed Riverside
Jordan Rhodes hit the post and was denied by the excellent Bart Bialkowski as the expensively assembled home side not unexpectedly had the majority of the play but Blues defended well to put a dent in Boro’s chances of finishing in the top two.
The draw leaves Town eight points adrift of sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday with two games to play.
Town made four changes to the side that drew with Fulham in midweek, Paul Digby coming in for his first League start to replace the injured Christophe Berra.
David McGoldrick returned up front with Kevin Bru and Luke Hyam included in midfield, Andre Dozzell joining fellow teenager Teddy Bishop on the bench.
Town started on the front foot in front of a near full house at the Riverside, McGoldrick hooking the ball goalwards after linking up with Freddie Sears, Stewart Downing responding for Boro with a shot blocked by Luke Chambers.
Former Town striker Rhodes was inches away from connecting with a diving header from Albert Adomah’s cross, Bart Bialkowski then in the right place to save well from Downing after Rhodes had set him up.
Ben Gibson’s header was straight at Bialkowski from another ex-Blue, Grant Leadbitter’s delivery, Chambers putting Leadbitter’s cross behind seconds later as Downing waited to pounce.
Adomah was stretching before heading wide from Rhodes’ cross before Hyam was shown a yellow card for bringing down his former Town team-mate.
Bialkowski came to Town’s rescue on the half hour, Gaston Ramirez sent Rhodes clear but the ‘keeper did enough yet again with his left hand to deflect the ball to safety.
A minute later, Digby did brilliantly to divert Emilio Nsue’s effort behind when he was clear on goal as Boro turned up the heat on the Town goal.
Adomah had an effort deflected behind, Daniel Ayala heading over from a corner but Blues held firm to the break.
McGoldrick almost forced his way to goal as the second-half got underway, Bialkowski saving low down at the other end from Adomah after a sweeping counter-attack by the hosts.
Chambers headed behind to clear the danger from another Boro break, Ayala heading the ball down and over the bar from the corner.
Bialkowski gathered from Downing’s cross as Rhodes threatened, Cole Skuse clearing from Adomah’s cross as Boro pressed for that opener, Rhodes then hitting the inside of the post from 15 yards, the ball bouncing into Bialkowski’s grateful hands.
Cristhian Stuani replaced Downing, Bishop on for Hyam as both sides made changes on 70 minutes, Kevin Foley replacing Jonas Knudsen soon after.
Sears was robbed inside the box after McGoldrick found him in space down the left as Town threatened to silence the home support.
Ramirez made way for David Nugent for the closing stages, Jonathan Douglas on for Bru in Town’s final change.
Nugent, so often the nemesis for Town, almost won it for Boro in added on time but Bialkowski got down well to save from his header.