Joe Nicholson's verdict: Old Middlesbrough problem is proving costly again after Huddersfield Town draw

When the team sheet dropped at the John Smith’s Stadium and showed two young goalkeepers making their Championship debuts – there was a degree of uncertainty in West Yorkshire.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 11:54 am
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 1:42 pm

In truth, though, neither Middlesbrough stopper Aynsley Pears, 21, or Huddersfield teenager Ryan Schofield, 19, were really tested, as both sides’ lack of attacking firepower resulted in a low-key goalless draw.

As both bosses, Jonathan Woodgate and Danny Cowley, pointed out after the game, it was the visitors who created the better chances, the best of which fell to Boro striker Ashley Fletcher midway through the second half.

Last season, the Teessiders’ poor finishing and lack of cutting edge cost them a place in play-offs. If they’re not careful, they could pay an even bigger price this term.

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Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga dropped to the bench against Huddersfield.
Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga dropped to the bench against Huddersfield.

Woodgate’s side remain a point above the relegation zone following this result, yet three points were there for the taking.

The Terriers produced a couple of flashes going forward, with playmaker Lewis O'Brien causing problems in the No 10 position.

Even so, despite a recent boost following the arrival of Cowley, Huddersfield were arguably the worst side Boro have faced this season.

Woodgate must also be wondering what else he can do after another game without a goal – only Wigan have scored less in the Championship this campaign.

The Boro boss dropped striker Britt Assombalonga to the bench with Fletcher taking his place, neither have much confidence right now, though, and the lack of alternatives is alarming.

On Saturday, league leaders West Brom brought on Hal Robson-Kanu in the second half and the Welshman went on to score the winner against Boro at the Riverside.

Woodgate doesn’t have such luxuries and, after Assombalonga was introduced on 63 minutes, Marcus Browne was the only other offensive option on the bench.

It’s not like there are many to come back either, with George Friend and Rudy Gestede the only outfield players sidelined through injury.

Boro have at least shored things up at the back, though, with the use of wing-backs and three centre-backs providing security in defence.

In front of them, the side’s midfielders beavered away throughout the night, yet Woodgate’s lack of attacking resources is starting to show.