A quick and lively first half at the Madejski Stadium gave way to a tiresome and tedious second, as neither side could open up the other’s defences.
Reading’s Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici produced a superb double save to deny Middlesbrough pair Scott McDonald and Marvin Emnes, while Adam Le Fondre and Simon Church went close for the Royals. Marvin Emnes and Barry Robson both hit the post late on, as Boro piled on the pressure, but in the end the two teams had to settle for a point.
The Royals took all the momentum from their astonishing late comeback win at Bristol City in midweek into the match’s opening exchanges.
For the first quarter-of-an-hour the hosts camped themselves in Boro territory. Hal Robson-Kanu, restored to the starting line-up in place of Noel Hunt, shot straight at the keeper, Simon Church headed just wide from Jobi McAnuff’s cross and the same player then fired wide when well placed.
Boro could not get a foothold on proceedings, with Matthew Bates’ looping header which sailed well over the crossbar the visitors’ best chance.
Jay Tabb should have done better than head Shaun Cummings’ cross wide, but on 27 minutes the away side almost took a shock lead.
Federici, until then a passenger in the game, sprung into action to produce a stunning double save to deny first McDonald and then Emnes when both seemed certain to score.
The Aussie was a one-man wall at Ashton Gate on Wednesday, and the stopper was recreating that form, as he did superbly to keep out Boro in the lead-up to the interval.
And Reading emerged from a period of concerted Middlesbrough pressure unscathed to go in level at half time, with both Adam Le Fondre and Church going close before the break.
The second half failed to match the intensity of the first in its early exchanges, with both sides seeming to flail a little in the heat.
But McDonald should have given Tony Mowbray’s Boro the advantage with 20 minutes to go. With it seemingly easier to score, the Scotsman contrived to fire wide of Federici’s goal.
It was an isolated moment of action in an otherwise completely forgettable half-hour of football.
With 15 minutes left, referee Anthony Taylor waved away Le Fondre’s claims for a penalty, turning down suggestions Julio Arca had handled in the box, while at the other end Thomson lashed an effort over the bar.
Emnes went within a matter of inches of clawing three points for Boro, but saw his header clip the outside of the post on 80 minutes, and Robson smashed against the woodwork again two minutes later as the away side put Reading under the cosh in the dying moments without finding a way through.