Visitors Gloucester were quick out of the blocks, creating three good chances in the opening 10 minutes, with Joe Cracknell diving to save a low shot from Harry Pritchard, Luca Colville cleared a goal-bound effort from Danny Wright, and Will Thornton blocked a fierce Kartell Dawkins shot, writes Steve Adamson.
Boro’s first attack saw Alex Purver set up Frank Mulhern, whose shot was blocked by Dawkins, then Michael Coulson headed home from a Lewis Maloney corner, but the ref spotted some pushing and disallowed the goal.
The visitors went ahead on 25 minutes when Jamie Reckford passed forward to Brandon Smalley, who had played three games as a trialist for Boro in August 2020, and he raced down the left, cut inside and neatly slotted past Cracknell.
Boro went close five minutes later when Mulhern, Coulson and Colville combined to get the ball into the goalmouth, where a scramble developed, culminating in a close range shot from Curtis Durose being cleared off the goal-line by Reckford.
City mounted several attacks, with Thornton and Bailey Gooda winning numerous headers, then Wright burst clear but fired straight at Cracknell, while Maloney shot just over at the other end.
Boro were much sharper in the second half, but the first chance fell to City, when a thunderous 30-yard strike from Dawkins forced a great diving save out of Cracknell.
The fightback began when Durose burst clear but his shot was saved by the legs of Jeacock, then Coulson fired wide, and the energetic Alex Brown passed to Charlie Marshall, who shot tamely at the keeper.
The pressure continued, with another Marshall shot zipping over the bar then a terrific move saw Colville lay off to Frank Mulhern, whose shot was blocked by Reckford, with Alex Wiles blasting the rebound which was met by a great reflex save from Jeacock.
In a rare City attack, Ethan Freemantle had a powerful shot superbly saved by the on-form Cracknell, before Boro finally drew level when Alex Brown tried a long-range strike, which keeper Jeacock couldn’t hold, and the ball trickled inside the bottom right corner.
All three subs, Marshall, Wiles and Dom Tear injected pace and urgency into the Boro attack, and Wiles went close to snatching a late winner, latching onto a through-ball from Mulhern but seeing his shot saved by Jeacock, then Gooda had a volley blocked by Ioan Richards, and Colville laid off to Mulhern, who fired inches wide.
With the last kick of the match, City almost won it, when Cracknell dived to push away a well-struck volley from skipper Louis McGrory.
BORO - Cracknell, Weledji (Tear 69), Brown, Maloney, Thornton, Gooda, Coulson (Wiles 72), Purver, Mulhern, Durose (Marshall 62), Colville
CITY - Jeacock, Ram, Reckford, Duffus, Parker (McDonald 70), McGrory, Wright (Freemantle 62), Pinchard, Richards-Everton, Dawkins (Richards 83), Smalley
REFEREE- Alex Sawden
GOALS - BORO - Alex Brown 81; GLOUCESTER - Brandon Smalley 25
YELLOW CARDS - CITY - Tyrone Duffus, Joe Parker, Max Ram, Kartell Dawkins, Jamie Reckford, Zach Jeacock
BORO MAN OF MATCH - Lewis Maloney
ATTENDANCE - 1,386 (28 away)