|Middlesbrough 0 v 0 Reading|
Saturday, 17th October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Middlesbrough vs Reading - talking points
Sunday, 18th Oct 2020 13:18 by @Phil Spencer
Middlesbrough supporters endured a turgid affair as they played out a 0-0 draw against Reading.
The Royals had won four from four so far in the Championship and conceded just one in the process, so Neil Warnock's side knew that it was going to be a tough test.
In truth, it was a dour affair from start to finish but Middlesbrough will be happy with a hard-earned point that extends their unbeaten run to four matches.
Here are Bonkers For Boro's talking points from the Riverside Stadium.
A costly controversial call
It may have been one point gained on paper, but Middlesbrough fans will certainly feel aggrieved.
Neil Warnock's side arguably deserved the win after see Jonny Howson's goal ruled out for offside.
Having seen the replay time and time again it's clear that Howson was onside as George Saville flicked the ball to him in the area, meaning that the goal should have stood.
To say that Warnock was fuming was an understatement, and you just know that he'll have given the officials a rocket for making such a poor call.
Had the goal gone in Middlesbrough would be sitting in the Championship's top eight right now, but it all evens out over a season.
At least that's what they say.
A functioning makeshift defence
Signing a central defender was seen as a priority as the transfer deadline approach, but the decision was made that it wasn't needed.
Based on the performance against Reading, it seems that Warnock's verdict is correct.
Anfernee Dijksteel has been excellent so far this term, while Paddy McNair seems to have found his home as an extremely deep-lying playmaker.
Warnock is slowly forging a real understanding in his system at the Riverside and that's becoming clear as the team get more and more robust by the week.
The 0-0 was the first clean sheet that Middlesbrough have picked up this season, and the hope is that they can add many more as they look to move themselves up the table.
A proven midfield formula emerges
We expected that Neil Warnock would take time to find the best starting XI for his system.
It seems that he's certainly found that in midfield.
Jonny Howson and George Saville have started every game so far this season and look set to be stalwart's of Middlesbrough's streetwise engine room.
Samy Morsy is also settling into life at the Riverside quite nicely after starting the last two games and impressing in the process.
That well-balanced midfield trio looks like a unit that could compete with most in the Championship, and that will serve us well this term.
The mystery of Patrick Roberts
After completing his loan move from Manchester City many supporters couldn't wait to see the winger start this weekend.
Not only did he not start, but he didn't even appear as a substitute.
Neil Warnock claims that this was a tactical decision, while others suggest that it may actually be down to a lack of fitness.
One thing we do know is that this Middlesbrough team isn't exactly flush with goalscoring potential and so it's in everybody's best interests to get him on the pitch as soon as possible.
After all, Roberts is a cut above when it comes to creative talent and that's something that we need to maximise.
An offensive dilemma
The news that Ashley Fletcher will be out for a number of months is a massive blow.
The fact that Britt Assombalonga was forced off is even more concerning.
Neil Warnock made the decision to take him off at half-time as a precaution - a call which few could argue with.
Middlesbrough can't afford to take unnecessary risks with Assombalonga's fitness - especially with a pursuit of a fourth forward starting to cool.
Hopefully the skipper can be available for this week's trips to Bristol City and Cardiff, otherwise Warnock may have a real problem.
We need Assombalonga and Chuba Akpom to stay consistently fit so anything that Warnock can do to preserve them will be essential to the club's long-term success this term.
Do Middlesbrough need another striker? Have your say!
Photo: Action Images
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