RHYS WILLIAMS scored again as Boro came from behind to draw 1-1 with Millwall in the final pre-season game of the summer, writes SAM LOUGHRAN from the New Den...
Brad Jones missed out again with Danny Coyne keeping his place between the posts, while Didier Digard, Marvin Emnes and Jonathan Grounds returned from injury to take their place in the starting line-up and Gary O'Neil overcame a groin injury sufficiently to make the bench.
Before kick-off there was a heart-warming minute's applause for the late Sir Bobby Robson. The Boro players wore black armbands as a mark of respect for the former England manager who passed away yesterday.
Boro lined up in a flexible 4-3-3 formation, with Adam Johnson, Emnes and Jeremie Aliadiere occupying the front three positions from left to right.
The first real effort of the game was crafted by Robert Huth after a right-wing corner from Mark Yeates.
The German defender, in a similar position to where he scored against Oldham on Wednesday, controlled and hit a shot on the turn but failed to trouble David Forde in the Millwall goal.
With Boro now operating a more rigid 4-4-2, the visitors were beginning to cause Millwall some problems, specifically with Johnson and Yeates on either wing.
Johnson was beginning to pose the Lions' backline all kinds of questions, and after dinking by two defenders, the winger could only scuff his shot wide of the mark.
But it was the hosts that broke the deadlock after Gary Alexander challenged Huth for a cross. Huth cleared from the edge of the six-yard box but the ball hit David Wheater and went in.
The goal buoyed the home side, and their supporters, as Boro were failing to make inroads back into the game.
Emnes and Aliadiere were having no joy in the air against Tony Craig and Mat Doumbe, with the centre-halves winning countless headers from long Boro balls forward.
Half-time: Millwall 1 Middlesbrough 0
There was a change apiece at the interval, with Gary O'Neil replacing Arca and Danny Senda coming on for Craig.
Boro were showing more initiative in the early stages of the second half, preferring to keep the ball moving, on the floor, as they progressed forward.
The visitors were becoming increasingly frustrated as they failed to build any real attacks, with too many passes going astray.
As the hour mark approached, substitute O'Neil found Yeates with a delightful clipped ball from the left, but the latter cleared the bar when six yards out.
A double change for Gareth Southgate's side saw Tony McMahon replacing Hoyte at right-back and Rhys Williams taking Digard's central midfield spot.
After blocking an attempted clearance, Yeates fed Aliadiere in the left channel but the Frenchman, not for the first time during the game, failed to find his intended target, with Emnes free on the penalty spot.
With Boro advancing down the left with Jonathan Grounds, the full-back found Williams 20 yards from goal. The Australia international shaped for goal and drove an unstoppable shot past Forde to pull Boro level with nine minutes to go.
It was Rhys Williams' fourth goal in pre-season.
Jonathan Franks replaced Emnes, who had been lively but hadn't had a real chance to get into the game, after 82 minutes.
Millwall hit back and subs Price and Harris combine to eventually force a good save from Coyne inside the six-yard box.
Boro failed to make late attacks pay with Aliadiere wasting a good chance, but the final whistle confirmed the Teessiders ended their pre-season unbeaten.
Boro: Coyne; Hoyte (McMahon 60), Wheater, Huth (Capt from 46), Grounds, Yeates, Digard (Williams 60), Arca (Capt) (O'Neil 46), A Johnson, Emnes (Franks 82), Aliadiere. Unused subs: Smith (gk); Hines, Taylor, Walker, Porritt.
Millwall: Forde; Dunne, Barron, Bolder, Doumbe, Craig (Senda 46 (Smith 66)), Hackett, Alexander (Price 68), Morrison (Harris 68), Abdou (Sadlier 77), Martin. Unused subs: Sullivan (gk); Grabban, Ward, Duseini, Grimes.
Referee: Steve Cook