REPORT: BORO 0 WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
A cold and windy evening in the Riverside Stadium ended goalless as Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough cancelled themselves out in a battle between two evenly matched sides on the night.
Substitute James McArthur came closest for Latics when his deflected effort was tipped over the bar by Shay Given, with Boro's best chance falling to Curtis Main who scuffed an effort over from close range.
Uwe Rosler made four changes from the 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, with Stephen Crainey, Chris McCann, Nick Powell and Marc-Antoine Fortune all coming in to start.
It was a quiet first half dominated by the wind which took control of every and any high balls.
Middlesbrough's direct play down the flanks caused initial tests for full backs James Perch and Stephen Crainey who handled the pressure well, helping Latics to settle into the game.
Latics came close on eight minutes when a Ben Watson free kick nodded into the danger zone by Powell, with McCann taking aim only for his effort to be deflected wide at close range.
Boro's attacks may have been limited due to the dominance in first half possession for Latics, but Ali Al Habsi's resolve was tested on a couple of occasions, the first a whipped free kick over the wall by Emmanuel Ledesma which was easily caught.
The second danger for Al Habsi edged Boro a lot closer when a corner flashed across his six yard box, with the keeper having Emmerson Boyce to thank at his post as the defender cleared a Mustapha Carayol effort off the line.
Before a quiet first half came to an end, Boro were left concerned when defender Rhys Williams injured himself stretching for the ball in the centre circle, with the Australian having to be carried off on a stretcher.
Both teams remained frustrated for the duration of the second half with the wind still playing its part.
It began with a flurry of yellow cards as Jozsef Varga was eventually booked for persistent fouling, and Emmerson Boyce and James Perch both saw cards for trips down the wing.
Boro had a lively spell after the hour mark, carving out a clear chance for the first time when Carayol wrestled Boyce off the ball down the left wing, he fed Emmanuel Ledesma into the area, but his cut back was somehow scuffed over the bar on the edge of the six yard box by Curtis Main.
Latics brought on James McArthur and James McClean, with the latter making himself noticed by cutting in from the right wing and fizzing a shot over the bar.
On 76 minutes Latics came their closest to scoring when a long range McArthur shot deflected wickedly off an outstretched leg, fooling Shay Given, but unfortunately for Latics the experienced stopper was able to change his direction and tip the ball over the bar.
Nicky Maynard was introduced late on, but neither side had that cutting edge to take the three points, with Maynard and McClean shooting wide with moments to spare.