ROVERS’ frustration with match officials continued as they were denied a strong shout for a penalty in a goalless clash at the Riverside.
Chris Brown appeared to be hacked down by Seb Hines as he turned after collecting George Friend’s pass but referee Darren Drysdale waved away the appeals.
Their frustration will have equalled that of their play-off chasing hosts who enjoyed the better of the possession and chances throughout the game and could have had a penalty of their own.
Dean Saunders made two changes to his line-up from the 4-3 defeat to Portsmouth with Sam Hird and Shelton Martis replacing Giles Barnes and the suspended Habib Beye.
Hird sat in front of the back four from the start with Chris Brown acting as a lone striker.
Brown headed a searching James O’Connor cross over from six yards as Rovers enjoyed a confident start, allowed plenty of time on the ball by the hosts.
But they had a big let off on 12 minutes when Lucas Jutkiewicz’s deep cross found Nicky Bailey completely unmarked at the back post.
Despite having all the time in the world Bailey could only sidefoot the ball onto the outside of the post.
Boro settled into the game better from this point and went on to enjoy the better of the first half chances.
It took a fantastic blocking header on the dive from O’Connor when Barry Robson targeted the far corner after the ball fell kindly to him ten yards out.
And Gary Woods was forced to tip over when Seb Hines headed the resultant corner on target.
Jutkiewicz sent a shot straight at Woods after holding off Adam Lockwood superbly to receive a long ball from Stephen McManus.
Then came the moment of controversy when referee Drysdale failed to point to the spot when Brown was brought down in the box.
Simon Gillett had Rovers’ best chance of the half five minutes before the break when an initial shot from the edge of the are deflected back to him and he volleyed on goal with Jason Steele parrying away.
Jutkiewicz drilled a low effort from 35 yards but Woods collected at the second attempt as the first half drew to a close.
After the break the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession but found themselves increasingly frustrated by a packed Rovers defence.
There were few moments where Boro defenders found space in the box but McDonald wasted a golden opportunity when Justin Hoyte’s deep cross found him unmarked only for him to turn his header wide.
Chances were few and far between for Rovers but it took an excellent last ditch tackle from Julio Arca to deny Brown space to shoot after collecting John Oster’s squared pass on 64 minutes.
The introduction of former Barnsley man Adam Hammill livened things up for the hosts but the final ball continued to let them down.
Tony McMahon headed straight at Woods from a corner while Jutkiewicz blasted over on the angle after galloping clear.
Boro had a big shout for a penalty themselves when Hammill’s long range effort crashed into George Friend who seemed to have his arms by his chest.
Hammill almost had glory a minute from time but could only watch his deft chip over Woods bounce back off the bar.
The late hero for Rovers proved to be the commanding Woods who denied Jutkiewicz’s header at the foot of his post before tipping over substitute Curtis Main’s lob attempt.
Middlesbrough: Jason Steele, Justin Hoyte, Stephen McManus, Seb Hines, Tony McMahon, Julio Arca, Scott McDonald, Nicky Bailey, Marvin Emnes, Lucas Jutkiewcz, Barry Robson.
Subs not used: Kevin Thomson, Adam Hammill, Bart Ogbeche, Curtis Main, Ritchie Smallwood.
Rovers: Gary Woods, James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Sam Hird, Shelton Martis, George Friend, James Coppinger, Simon Gillett, John Oster, Fabien Robert, Chris Brown.
Subs not used: James Hayter, Giles Barnes, Kyle Bennett, Mustapha Dumbuya, James Husband.
Referee: Darren Drysdale