Brighton settle for stalemate

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Middlesbrough 1
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The Independent Football

Middlesbrough's fourth successive 1-1 draw ensured that the Championship play-off positions remain as tight as ever. These two teams are level on points, separated only by five goals, so stalemate was predictable in an increasingly congested area of the League table, even though both sides went out for the victory.

"I don't want to draw any more games," Gus Poyet, the Brighton manager, said. "We need to win three or four games to be in the play-offs, but it was a very difficult game so we take the draw and move on. I'm a fan of Tony Mowbray's teams and the pressure was different to what we're used to. But we're still there. If you'd said last year we'd be competing with Middlesbrough at this level I'd have been happy."

Boro are without a victory in six games and seem to have mislaid the knack of winning at the worst possible time, but Mowbray, remained positive. "Bar Reading and Southampton, nobody is stringing results together in this League," he said. "It's very tight. The fine margins are there for everyone to see. Against a talented team we could have won and maybe should have won."

Brighton made the better first-half chances, but Boro attacked more than most visitors to the Amex Stadium, led by Barry Robson, their captain. After 61 minutes he flighted a corner kick to the near post where Marvin Emnes failed to make contact and the ball looped in off Liam Bridcutt – the unfortunate midfield player's third own goal of the year.

The visitors were almost two ahead after 71 minutes when a low shot on the turn by Lukas Jutkiewicz rebounded from the post. Instead the scores were level scarcely 60 seconds later as Brighton full-back Inigo Calderon headed home Kazenga LuaLua's corner kick, his second goal in three games.

"Two teams who want to create chances score from corners," Poyet said. "Strange."

Brighton (4-2-1-3): Brezovan; Calderon, Greer, El-Abd, Mattock; Bridcutt, Navarro; Vicente; Buckley (LuaLua, 69), Vokes, Barnes (Mackail-Smith, 68).

Middlesbrough (4-3-3): Steele; Hoyte, Hines, McManus, Bennett; Smallwood, Bailey, Arca; Jutkiewicz (Ogbeche, 84), Robson, Emnes (McDonald, 70).

Referee Darren Deadman.

Man of the match Robson (Middlesbrough).

Match rating 7/10.