Middlesbrough held to controversial draw at Birmingham
Middlesbrough's promotion hopes suffered a blow after they were controversially denied victory at Birmingham.
Boro drew 2-2 at St Andrew's to move top of the Sky Bet Championship by a point but they were left fuming after Daniel Ayala's goal was wrongly ruled out
The defender netted in the second half but it was disallowed for offside with the scores locked at 2-2, despite the centre-back clearly being onside
Jordan Rhodes and Gaston Ramirez had given the visitors the lead after Stephen Gleeson's opener but David Davis' fine strike earned Birmingham an entertaining draw.
Boro's future is still in their own hands as they face Brighton on the final day with the Seagulls a point behind in third and a win would end their seven-year exile from the Barclays Premier League
But they face an anxious wait until Monday when third-placed Brighton host Derby and Burnley, who sit second, welcome QPR
All three started the day on 87 points and Boro will count the cost of missed chances and an official's flag.
It took until the the 25th minute for them to carve an opening out - and it was a glorious one which Rhodes should have taken
Grant Leadbitter barged his way through in the middle and when the ball ricocheted to Rhodes he was left with just Adam Legzdins to beat but the goalkeeper made a superb sprawling save.
Two minutes later the hosts almost took the lead when Dimi Konstantopoulos palmed Maikel Kieftenbeld's drive away and then claimed Clayton Donaldson's tame follow-up
The game suddenly opened up and Legzdins raced off his line to deny Rhodes again before Birmingham struck first after 33 minutes.
Loanee Ritchie De Laet - who will earn a Barclays Premier League winners' medal if Leicester win the title - could only clear as far as Gleeson
The midfielder was then given too much time to steady himself and while Konstantopoulos got a hand to his 25-yard drive he could not keep it out
Boro hit back almost immediately when Legzdins thwarted Albert Adomah but the keeper then undid all his fine work with a massive gaffe five minutes before the break
The visitors were awarded a free kick 25-yards out and Legzdins spilled Ramirez's strike straight to Rhodes who bundled in from four yards
The chances continued to flow after the break as Ryan Shotton's header dropped just wide before Boro missed three golden chances in the space of 10 seconds
First, Rhodes volleyed Leadbitter's free-kick against the post, only to then block Adomah's follow-up and see Ramirez sky a third attempt over the bar
But Boro, who had been the better side, finally took the lead after 57 minutes with a goal of true simplicity
Adomah's deep cross found Rhodes peeling off at the far post and his header across goal was met by Ramirez to nod in from barely a yard
Back came Birmingham though and Davis levelled 11 minutes later with a brilliant half volley from the edge of the area after Ayala could only half clear
And an enthralling game continued to spark within 90 seconds when Ayala had a goal controversially ruled out
The defender had ambled forward and curled into the far corner from 12 yards only for his strike to be wrongly disallowed for offside after replays showed the ex-Liverpool man was clearly onside.
Furious Boro then almost lost the game when Diego Fabbrini headed over and Konstanopoulos twice denied David Cotterill in the final 10 minutes
But Leadbitter nearly won it with two minutes left when Legzdins turned his rasping drive onto the bar.
Source : PA