BOSS Eddie Howe hailed Cherries’ defending as “faultless” and said he felt they had done everything they could in an attempt to beat Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Howe’s men, bidding to record four successive wins in the second flight for the first time in the club’s history, were thwarted by stubborn opponents at Dean Court.

A controversial refereeing decision saw an effort from Lewis Grabban chalked off, while Boro goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos pulled off a couple of crucial saves.

Howe said: “Middlesbrough were dogged and resolute. They didn’t really come out of their shell and that made it a lot more difficult for us. When you consider the players they had, it was a good sign that we were disappointed to only draw with a team like them.

“I thought they showed us a lot of respect. Their defensive record recently has been excellent and we knew they hadn’t conceded many goals so we knew we would have to be at our best going forward.

“At times, I felt we got going in the second half and looked a real threat. We looked like the only team that was going to win the game but things didn’t drop for us around the box and we didn’t pull the trigger perhaps when we could have. We looked a threat from set-plays but just didn’t have that elusive chance you thought we must take.

“There were still plenty of positives. It was another clean sheet and a good defensive performance. It would have been an easy game to lose on a rare Middlesbrough break and that shows the improvement in my team.

“Defensively, we put in another faultless performance and Lee Camp, like in recent games, didn’t have a lot to do and that was a really pleasing sign because, if we are going to achieve anything as a team, that was an area we needed to work on and the players have responded in really good style.”