Middlesbrough had to battle back from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw against a hard-working and energetic Brentford.
Boro looked like their confidence had been rocked from the moment the game started and the Bees made the most of that by taking the lead in the 29th minute through French defender Yoann Barbet.
Danish striker Martin Braithwaite hit his first goal since joining Middlesbrough in the summer in the 68th minute and Brentford went back in front four minutes later through Ollie Watkins.
But Boro responded positively again by levelling for a second time with 14 minutes remaining through Fabio and that was how it remained – as Brentford’s wait for a first win on Teesside since 1938 goes on.
Brentford’s last away trip to Bolton, ending in victory, clearly had a positive impact on the players because they were the most confident side at the Riverside.
From the moment the first whistle was blown it was the Bees who looked the part, as Middlesbrough struggled to settle just days after losing their first home match of the campaign against Norwich.
Despite introducing Braithwaite to the starting line-up for the first time since suffering injury on the opening weekend, and handing a debut to former Birmingham defender Ryan Shotton, Middlesbrough could not get going.
Adam Clayton, who endured a difficult afternoon in the middle, had already gone close to conceding a penalty for a trip on Kamohelo Mokotjo before Brentford created further problems.
With the exception of an effort wide from Braithwaite, it was Brentford who had the efforts on goal in the first half. The best saw Florian Jozefzoon shoot wide and then the goal arrived.
Barbet was allowed to stroll into the centre of the Middlesbrough penalty area undetected to glance a header inside Darren Randolph’s left corner from Watkins’ free-kick just before the half hour mark.
Brentford remained in control for a decent time after that and frustrations grew in the stands and among the Boro players, prompting both Ashley Fletcher and Patrick Bamford to be introduced at different points of the second half for Adama Traore and Marvin Johnson.
Moments after Bamford came on the first equaliser arrived. A free-kick into the area was nodded back across goal by Shotton and Braithwaite was on hand to volley over the line at the back post. But Brentford soon regained the lead when Mokotjo’s low cross across the penalty area was perfect for Watkins to slide in and finish, with huge question marks over the defending.
Middlesbrough, who have now fallen behind in their last four matches, bounced back again to pull level a second time. On this occasion full-back Fabio was the man who arrived undetected to finish at the back post after a routine ball across the box was not dealt with.
There was a late penalty shout when Cyrus Christie went down under a challenge from Watkins but the spot-kick was not given and the score remained level.
“It led to certain mistakes with the ball, the goals we conceded were from our own doing. A set-piece for the first, probably the first we have conceded from a set piece.
“Credit to them getting back into it again and maybe even nicking a winner again. Perspective, though, because we have lost one in nine, yes we want more, yes we want more in the performance, but we have lost one in nine.
“The last international break we talked about needing improvements and they came, this international break we need to look to correct and make further improvements. We need to come out firing like we did last time.
“Our crowd has been great, the players are fully committed, the intention is clear. I can say that honestly. We have spoken about having more confidence, of course we see that and we will work on those things during the break. That’s when we do get the chance to work hard on those.”
Brentford boss Dean Smith claimed that referee Paul Tierney refused to shake his hand after he had questioned a penalty decision at Middlesbrough.
Smith felt Brentford should have had a spot-kick when Kamohelo Mokotjo appeared to be tripped in the area by Adam Clayton in the first half, only for the officials to play on.
The Brentford boss said: “It feels like two points dropped, the performance merited more to take the lead twice and not come away with three points is disappointing. We’ve done well against a very good Middlesbrough team and it’s only our final ball that’s let us down.
“We had a stonewall penalty early on I thought but the referee refused to shake my hand at the end so he didn’t indulge in any discussion and refused to shake my hand. I’ve never known it before and I’ll be speaking to the PGMOL about it for sure.