Chuba Akpom continues scoring run as Middlesbrough are held in automatic promotion push by Stoke
Boro hit the front midway through the first half when Chuba Akpom tucked in his 23rd of the season with a neat finish but Ki-Jana Hoever pulled things level just before half-time with his third goal in two games.
Stoke frustrated the home faithful for large parts and came closest through Jacob Brown's close-range header but neither side were able to find a winner as Stoke ended Boro's relentless run of seven home league wins on the bounce. Middlesbrough were gifted an opportunity to take the lead just five minutes in when Ben Wilmot lazily gifted the ball to top scorer Akpom, leaving him one on one with Jack Bonham, but he failed to hit the target. Stoke came into the game in fine form and had ideas of grabbing the opener themselves but Hoever, fresh from his brace against Blackburn at the weekend, sliced wide of the target a couple of minutes later. The hosts came knocking once again as Akpom's effort from outside the area had the beating of Bonham, but he saw it crash off the crossbar. Boro struck midway through the first half as Aaron Ramsey broke forward and slipped through Riley McGree and he put it on a plate for Akpom to grab his 23rd of the season. Stoke had Bonham to thank when he stopped them from going two down as Ramsey's clever looping header was fingertipped away by the Potters keeper. City continued to plug away in search of an equaliser before the break and got their reward as Josh Laurent threaded through to Wolves loanee Hoever, who drilled in from close range to make it all square. Both sides went in search of a winner to keep their respective good runs going. McGree's free-kick from the edge of the box was met by Bonham's diving save before Will Smallbone's half-volley from the edge of the area flew centimetres wide of Zak Steffen's goal. The visitors looked the most threatening to take the lead, with another Smallbone effort from the edge of the area deflected to safety before Steffen was on hand to remarkably keep out Brown's glacing header from point-blank range. Southampton loanee Smallbone had another go to put the Potters in front but fired a shot straight at Steffen's midriff with 10 minutes left on the clock. Despite the Stoke pressure, Boro almost punished them for their missed chances but Paddy McNair could not slide in Dan Barlaser's late free-kick as both sides took a share of the spoils in an exciting encounter.
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