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Millwall and Middlesbrough battle to goalless draw at the Den

Millwall v Middlesbrough – Sky Bet Championship – The Den
(Image credit: Jacques Feeney)

Promotion hopefuls Millwall and Middlesbrough cancelled each other out in a hard-fought goalless draw at the Den.

Both sides struck the crossbar, with Marcus Tavernier firing an early free-kick against the woodwork for Boro and Murray Wallace looping a second-half header against the bar for Millwall.

However, neither side was able to make a breakthrough, meaning they both remain outside the play-off positions in the Sky Bet Championship table.

Middlesbrough went into the game looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s thrashing at Sheffield United and Chris Wilder’s side almost made the ideal start after just six minutes.

Tavernier’s 25-yard free-kick flew past Millwall goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, but the ball rattled against the crossbar, with Matt Crooks heading the rebound wide.

Tavernier was at the heart of a bright start from the visitors, but while the midfielder released Folarin Balogun behind the opposition defence, the Arsenal loanee was snuffed out by two Millwall defenders as he looked to round Bialkowski.

Millwall’s ‘keeper was called into action again midway through the first half, gathering a driven free-kick from Paddy McNair as Middlesbrough carried the greater goal threat before the break.

Millwall saw plenty of the ball in the opening 45 minutes but their passing moves tended to break down before they were able to test Joe Lumley.

Their best first-half moment came to nothing shortly before the interval, with a well-positioned Benik Afobe unable to control Danny McNamara’s cross in the box.

The Lions went much closer five minutes into the second half, matching their opponents by also hitting the crossbar.

Wallace outjumped the Boro defence to meet a corner from the left-hand side, but his header thumped against the bar before rebounding to safety.

Millwall played with greater intensity in the second half, and Scott Malone should have done better on the hour mark when Afobe’s attempted overhead kick fell kindly for him in the area, only for his poor control to enable Lumley to seize possession.

Lumley made a brilliant save a couple of minutes later, throwing himself to his right to claw away Jake Cooper’s goal-bound header from a corner, before Bialkowski was called into action at the other end to block Aaron Connolly’s driven strike after Jonny Howson’s free-kick flashed across the Millwall six-yard box.

The final chance of the game went Millwall’s way, but while Afobe turned neatly inside Dael Fry to create space in the area, his curled effort flew over the crossbar.

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