COVENTRY City held Middlesbrough to a goalless draw in the first leg of their play-off semi-final to leave the Sky Blues’ promotion chances in the balance.
The Sky Blues failed to have a shot on target whilst Boro’s prolific goalscorer Chuba Akpom was denied by Ben Wilson in the game’s best chance in front of 28,874 supporters at a fever pitch Coventry Building Society Arena.
And the second leg takes place on Wednesday, May 17 with kick-off at 8pm at the Riverside Stadium.
The first chance of the tie went Coventry’s way as Gustavo Hamer’s corner from the left was flicked across goal by a Middlesbrough head before the ball was eventually cleared to safety.
However, Boro spurned a glorious chance to take the lead on 13 minutes when the Championship’s top scorer Akpom was slipped in only for Wilson to superbly divert the striker’s effort onto the crossbar.
The visitors dominated the ball in the opening 25 minutes as City struggled to provide Viktor Gyokeres and Matty Godden with any kind of service.
Mark Robins’ side continued to look a threat from set-pieces as Liam Kelly headed Jake Bidwell’s corner from the right a few yards wide at the back post.
City came forward again soon after as Hamer’s bouncing shot just evaded the head of Godden who tried to flick the ball goalwards from 12-yards out.
The Sky Blues survived a scare when a loose pass out from the back was intercepted and Isaiah Jones’s effort was smartly saved behind at the near post by Wilson.
Middlesbrough had the ball in the net shortly before half time when Jones was picked out in space on the right and drove into the box to finish only for the assistant to flag for offside as the teams headed into the break goalless.
The visitors made a bright start to the second half and missed another chance to take the lead when Riley McGree’s cross from the left was headed narrowly wide of the right-hand post by Akpom from 10-yards out.
City enjoyed some early possession in the second period and forced a series of corners in quick succession but failed to trouble Zack Steffen in the Middlesbrough goal.
Just past the hour mark, the ball was worked into the path of Callum Doyle who beat a defender and cut inside only to shoot wildly over the crossbar from distance.
Minutes later, Hamer receievd the ball 30-yards from goal and drove towards the box before he dragged a low shot well wide of the left-hand post.
With the game finely poised, City were forced into their first change as the injured Josh Eccles was replaced by Jamie Allen in a like-for-like substitution.
Following Allen’s introduction, neither side was able to carve out a clear-cut opening as Coventry continued to enjoy plenty of possession in the Boro half.
However, the Sky Blues were unable to test Steffen in the Middlesbrough goal all game, despite a valiant effort, in a cagey encounter with both teams happy to settle for a draw ahead of next week’s second leg.