Middlesbrough were well below their best but still had enough to register victory over rock-bottom Rotherham United.
Having beaten Charlton 3-0 at the weekend, the expectation was to make light work also of the Millers, but they had to make do with Stewart Downing’s breakaway goal in the first half.
Although failing to hit their straps, Boro still could have won by a bigger margin as Carlos De Pena and George Friend hit the woodwork.
Rotherham simply did not have enough quality to test Boro and new manager Neil Redfearn has not won any of his first five games in charge, with a relegation battle looming.
The Millers did not help themselves by handing Boro’s decisive goal to them on a plate in the 16th minute.
Midfielder Grant Ward passed back without looking and set Downing free, the former England international surging through on goal and firing into the bottom corner. This gave Boro the platform to dominate the game and they almost made it two soon after, but De Pena’s header crashed onto the bar.
There were plenty of other half-chances and the hosts were in total control, with Albert Adomah and Downing both blazing over. Rotherham look a side doomed and offered little going forward, with Paul Green’s shot straight at Dimi Konstantopoulos their only effort on goal in the first.
Boro failed to find the same rhythm after the break and allowed Rotherham plenty of possession, though the strugglers did not possess a cutting edge.
It was the hosts that continued to carve out the better chances as De Pena headed another effort over while David Nugent dragged a shot wide.
The Millers had a chance to capitalise on a defensive error by Friend with 10 minutes to go but their lack of confidence was highlighted as Jordan Bowery was through on goal but went out wide and skewed his shot.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Kalas, Amorebieta, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter (Fabbrini 79), Adomah, Downing, De Pena (Zuculini 65), Nugent. Unused substitutes: Ayala,Gibson,Garcia,Mejias,Stephens.
Rotherham United: Camp, Richardson, Rawson, Collins, Toffolo, Thorpe, Grant Ward, Green, Andreu (Maguire 87), Danny Ward (Bowery 73), Clarke-Harris (Newell 63). Unused substitutes: Subs Not Used: Buxton,Broadfoot, Collin, Smallwood.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).