Joe Nicholson's verdict: Penalty decisions went against Middlesbrough but Millwall deserved a point for the first-half display

The overriding feeling as Middlesbrough fans left the Riverside on Saturday afternoon was one of frustration.

Sunday, 25th August 2019, 5:45 pm
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate felt his side should have been awarded two penalties against Millwall.

Frustration that their side were denied two second-half penalties during their 1-1 draw against Millwall, as two Championship points slipped through the Teessiders’ grasp.

Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate described the two penalty decisions as ‘blatant’ – and on second viewing he certainly has a point, the first one in particular when Britt Assombalonga’s header hit the raised arm of Mahlon Romeo at 0-0.

Then, in the closing stages, Marvin Johnson’s effort was blocked on the line by Jake Cooper, and it was difficult to tell if it hit his arm of his hip.

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On another day both could easily have been given and Boro could have taken all three points, yet the EFL’s goals show on Quest painted a different picture.

During their truncated highlights package, the commentator ended piece by saying ‘goodness knows how Boro managed to squeeze a point out of this one’, referring to Millwall’s multiple chances before half-time.

In truth it was a tale of two halves, and while Millwall created plenty of opportunities in the first 45 minutes, Boro were the dominant force after the break.

Once again we saw flashes of the way which Woodgate wants his side to play, most notably in the build-up to the opening goal when a neat passing move saw Paddy McNair and Ashley Fletcher combine before the former coolly converted.

Yet, just like in the early exchanges against Wigan, the Teessiders rode their luck in the opening 45 minutes as Millwall managed to bulldoze their way through Boro’s midfield.

The visitors also found success by going direct up to towering frontman Matt Smith and, while Boro’s centre-backs generally coped quite well, goalkeeper Darren Randolph was called into action on multiple occasions.

Boro’s response was far more reassuring as Marvin Johnson made an impact from the bench after replacing Marcus Browne at half-time.

Even so, after working the ball into several promising positions, Woodgate’s side managed just two shots on target.

Millwall salvaged a point through substitute Tom Bradshaw and, despite Boro’s penalty appeals, you couldn’t strongly argue it wasn’t deserved.