MILLWALL continued their pre-season preparations with a draw at home to Middlesbrough this afternoon.

This was a benefit game for former Lions favourite Richard Sadlier, whose playing career was cruelly cut short by injury at the age of 24.

But it was also a useful exercise for boss Kenny Jackett and the Lions chief handed a start to trialist defender Mathias Doumbe, as well as naming Jack Smith on the bench after the former Swindon defender signed a short-term deal today.

The game started quietly but almost sprung into life in the 10th minute when Robert Huth’s impressive shot on the turn from Mark Yeates’ corner just went wide.

Boro keeper Danny Coyne had a luck escape five minutes later when he dropped Chris Hackett’s free-kick into the danger zone, although he reacted quickly to catch the ball with Doumbe seemingly poised to tap home.

It was Millwall’s chance to survive a scare on 20 minutes when Alan Dunne failed to deal with a low pass to Adam Johnson, but he fired wide of David Forde’s goal when clean through.

Adam Bolder’s ambitious 25-yard low drive also sailed wide at the other end, while only a crucial deflection off Justin Hoyte prevented Dave Martin’s effort from finding the target.

The Lions took the lead on 26 minutes but it came courtesy of a Middlesbrough player as David Wheather applied the final touch when under strong pressure from Steve Morison after Gary Alexander’s header picked out his strike partner.

Middlesbrough’s immediate response was tame in the extreme, a point perfectly summed up when Marvin Emnes’ tame effort went about 15-yards wide of the post five minutes before the break.

Tony Craig made way for Danny Senda at the start of the second half, while the totally anonymous Julio Arca was replaced by Gary O’Neil.

Alexander made a real nuisance if himself 10 minutes into the second period, forcing Coyne to punch behind Dunne’s dipping cross for a corner.

Boro squandered a great opportunity to draw level four minutes later when O’Neil’s clever pass picked out Yeates but he opted to place his shot from close range over the bar with only Forde to beat.

This pre-season has been overshadowed by a series of injuries to defensive personnel and the problem was exacerbated when Senda, who had only been on the pitch for 22 minutes, was forced to make way for Smith.

Neil Harris and Jason Price came on before Forde was called into action three times in quick succession to deny Johnson (twice) and Yeates.

On 78 minutes came the moment most of the 3,620 crowd had been waiting for when Sadlier entered the field of play to widespread applause.

However, it was cut short seconds later when the visitors drew level after Rhys Williams’ powerful low shot flew into the bottom corner, giving Forde no chance.

Sadlier should have been awarded a penalty five minutes from time after he was clearly fouled in the box, but the referee clearly hadn’t read the script and chose to ignore the appeals, much to the obvious annoyance of the home fans.

Regardless, this was still a day to remember for Sadlier and Millwall supporters will be feeling optimistic ahead of the new campaign after a useful display against a side only relegated from the Premiership in May.