MIDDLESBROUGH were denied a club clean sheet record and precious victory after a controversial late leveller in their draw with Nottingham Forest.
They went ahead early in the second half with a well-crafted goal from Mustapha Carayol and were on course for an eighth successive shut-out at home when Darius Henderson bundled home an equaliser on 80 minutes – the first Boro had leaked at the Riverside in 11 hours and 54 minutes.
But Boro claimed the goal had gone in off the striker’s hand and both keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos and closest defender Ben Gibson chased referee Roger East to protest.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka insisted that his players’ reactions told the story.
“I could not see it and the replays are not conclusive,” he said. “It is for the Forest player to explain if it hit his hand or not.
“But I think it was handball, for sure. You could see from the reaction of my players that they thought it was.”
Boro pressed in the opening minute as Emmanuel Ledesma got down the right to cross and Danny Graham glanced a header wide of the far post.
They went close to scoring 14 minutes in when an inswinging corner from Grant Leadbitter was missed by goalkeeper Karl Darlow and dipped to the far post for Carayol to head goalwards, but Jamaal Lascelles nodded off the line.
Forest threatened after 32 minutes when Djamel Abdoun crossed from the right for Simon Cox six yards out, but his downward header was well saved by Konstantopoulos.
Middlesbrough’s breakthrough came when Albert Adomah broke down the right and squared across the edge of the box to pick out Carayol who curled a shot just inside the foot of the far post from 15 yards.
The hosts almost netted a second goal similar to the opener after 69 minutes as Leadbitter sent Carayol down the inside left channel and again he cut into the box curled a 15-yard shot, but this time it drifted a fraction wide.
Forest levelled out of the blue when substitute Andy Reid crossed from the left for unmarked Henderson to stab goalwards. Konstantopoulos blocked his first effort but Henderson bundled home the rebound with home fans appealing for the referee to give handball against the visiting forward.
Graham almost grabbed a winner for Boro late on, but his stabbed effort from six yards hiot the post.
six yards out, but his stabbed effort cannoned off the post.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Varga, Omeruo, Gibson, Friend, Ledesma (Whitehead 62), Leadbitter, Chalobah, Carayol (Kamara 83), Tomlin (Adomah 36), Graham. Subs Not Used: Steele, Butterfield, Luke Williams, Atkinson. Goals: Carayol 53.
Nottm Forest: Darlow, Jara, Lascelles, Collins, Fox, Greening, Majewski, Mackie, Paterson (Reid 71), Abdoun (Henderson 78), Cox (Derbyshire 78). Subs Not Used: Harding, Moussi, De Vries, Gomis.Booked: Mackie. Goals: Henderson 80.
Att: 14,134 Ref: Roger East (Wiltshire).