Tony Pulis rues an 'awful' start - but Middlesbrough seal a vital point against Derby County

Tony Pulis felt Middlesbrough were 'awful' in the first half
Tony Pulis felt Middlesbrough were 'awful' in the first half

Tony Pulis believes that his Middlesbrough side gained a 'great point' against Derby County in a game which had plenty of late drama.

A duo of own goals - including one at the death from the Rams' Jayden Bogle - sealed a point for Boro after what Pulis felt was an 'awful' opening.

Having put the hosts under intense pressure from the off, Derby opened the scoring on 19 minutes when pressure from Martyn Waghorn forced George Friend to bundle into his own goal.

Harry Wilson then struck the post with a curling effort which left Darren Randolph beaten, but the Middlesbrough stopper made a string of fine saves to ensure his team were just one goal down at the interval.

And Randolph's heroics proved the catalyst for a much-improved second half performance, which saw Pulis adopt an attacking outlook.

A tactical switch to four at the back coupled with the introductions of Martin Braithwaite and Rudy Gestede saw the hosts start to stamp their authority on the clash.

Indeed, Gestede spurred a golden chance to level when he failed to convert Friend's cross while Flint and Ayala also had good opportunities to equalise.

But just when it looked as if Boro's effort was to go unrewarded, Derby youngster Bogle volleyed into his own net in what was a comical - yet valuable - late leveller for the hosts.

And it was a point which delighted Pulis, who feels it will be a vital one in the race for promotion.

The Middlesbrough chief wasn't shying away from the fact that Frank Lampard's men largely dominated, but believed his side were good value for the result.

“I thought we were awful first 20/25 minutes, we never got out of the blocks,” he said, speaking to Middlesbrough's official website.

“We just sat back and never did anything that we talked about on the training ground and Derby get the goal, it gives them a leg up, they’ve just been to West Brom and beaten them 4-1 so it gives them a start and it knocks us back.

“We’ve had a few chances as well – Dani (Ayala) missed a great header, Flinty (Aden Flint) has missed a great header, but you can’t get away from the fact that they were better than us.

“Darren Randolph has made some great saves to keep us in the game and second half was much more of an even game. It got a bit ragged, but the lads kept at it and it’s a great point gained.”

The result sees the Teessiders temporarily return to the top of the Championship, while Derby extend their unbeaten run to five matches.