Sam Allardyce admitted that his team's unconvincing home form could sabotage their automatic promotion bid after a fifth successive draw at Upton Park. West Ham had seemed on course to bludgeon their way to victory thanks to a freakish headed own goal by Joe Bennett but the Middlesbrough substitute Bartholomew Ogbeche struck a spectacular 84th-minute equaliser to prevent them from taking advantage of Reading's defeat at Peterborough.
"Eventually it could cost us," said Allardyce, whose joy at going a ninth match without defeat was tempered by the knowledge that six of them have ended in stalemates. "We've got to start turning those draws into wins. It's strange that our best undefeated run of the season has not yielded the points we want."
Boos resounded around the ground at the end of the match and Tony Mowbray, whose Middlesbrough remain in the final play-off spot, explained that the home fans' expectations played into the visitors' hands. "It appears that West Ham fans think they belong in the Premier League and it is an insult to be in the Championship. We were fully aware of the pressure West Ham were under and tried to make life difficult for them and create some anxiety in the stadium and we did that." That anxiety perhaps accounted for the high error count in this low-quality game.
As ever, West Ham did not try to complicate their attempt to secure victory. Long diagonal balls towards Carlton Cole, in particular, tested Boro's most basic attribute – their ability to compete physically. They generally withstood the blunt bombardment in a drab first half, albeit at the cost of conceding multiple corners, some of which provoked skirmishes in the Boro box. Nothing else of note occurred in a wretched first period, other than an earnest West Ham appeal for a penalty after a Nicky Maynard header came off Matthew Bates's shoulder.
West Ham improved slightly in the second half but a goal still did not look likely until Abdoulaye Faye's intervention. The defender met a long punt from George McCartney and saw his 16-yard header loop high into the air off Bennett before dropping into the net. James Tomkins had a chance to extend the lead but Jason Steele reacted brilliantly to push his close-range header on to the bar.
The game suddenly came to life in the last few minutes, as Ogbeche equalised with a tremendous left-footed drive from the age of the area and Boro nearly snatched an improbable victory as Lukas Jutkiewicz's stoppage-time shot was deflected on to the bar.