MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray was left frustrated as his Middlesbrough side dominated for long spells against Blackpool but had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Boro created a string of good chances at the Riverside, rattled the post and brought a string of superb saves from Blackpool’s Matt Gilks, but were twice pegged back in a ding-dong draw.
Scott McDonald twice put Boro ahead to take his tally to three goals in two games after an 11-game drought, but Blackpool clawed back with a strike from Ludovic Sylvestre in the first half.
Then a second-half leveller from on-loan Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey took his tally to six goals in eight games.
“Yes it is frustrating,” said the Boro boss.
“We played very well, we created a lot of very good opportunities, we hit the post and their keeper made some very good saves.
“So the result is frustrating – but not the way we played. There were times when we were leaking late goals last year and we had played poorly but that wasn’t the case today.
“Blackpool are a good team with good players. They were in the Premier League last year and you could see the quality in the way they moved the ball around.”
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway was delighted with a point that he insists shows his new-look team are starting to gel.
“Boro should have won and we nicked a point,” he said.
“We just about deserved something.
“But what pleased me was that we didn’t look like a team that kicked off eight points behind Boro.
“If we want to be in the upper echelons of this league we need to do well against teams like this. They are a good side and we matched them.”
Blackpool are being rebuilt after 15 players left following relegation.
“Players have come in because they liked the way we play but with the players we have lost we are having to learn a new way,” Holloway said.
Jonjo Shelvey scored as Blackpool twice came from behind to snatch a point.
The on-loan Liverpool midfielder struck 12 minutes from time, shortly after Scott McDonald appeared to have given Boro the points.
It was the second time in the match the Seasiders produced a rapid response after Ludovic Sylvestre cancelled out McDonald’s 15th minute opener.
Boro are now unbeaten in 16 home matches, but a magnificent display from Matt Gilks in the Blackpool goal was a key factor in them slipping three points behind West Ham in the second automatic promotion spot.
Barry Robson’s delivery, in the eighth minute, allowed McDonald to nod past Gilks and put Boro in the lead.
But Blackpool drew level in the 21st minute.
Taylor-Fletcher was involved in the build-up, finding Sylvestre on the edge of the area before the French midfielder confidently curled home his first goal for the club.
Gilks made a double save from Emnes and McDonald, before the latter found a way past Blackpool’s inspired goalkeeper to re-establish Boro’s lead in the 73rd minute.
Sylvestre partially cleared a Robson corner, but when Rhys Williams sent the ball back into the area it fell for McDonald to poach his fourth goal of the season, and a third in two games.
But Holloway’s men once again found a rapid and clinical reply.
Matt Phillips’ cross was met emphatically on the volley by Shelvey to leave Boro keeper Jason Steele with no chance.
Middlesbrough: Steele, McMahon, Bates, McManus, Bennett, Robson, Bailey, Rhys Williams (Nimely 77), Zemmama (Haroun 84), Emnes, McDonald (Ogbeche 83). Subs Not Used: Arca, Martin. Booked: Bailey. Goals: McDonald 15, 73.
Blackpool: Gilks, Baptiste, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey, Southern, Shelvey, Ferguson, Sylvestre (Clarke 75), McManaman (Kevin Phillips 71), Taylor-Fletcher (Matt Phillips 65). Subs Not Used: Basham, Angel. Booked: Baptiste. Goals: Sylvestre 21, Shelvey 78.
Att: 18, 128 Ref: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).