Aitor Karanka was full of rpaise for defesnive pair Ben Gibson and Calum Chambers after grinding out a point at Watford.
The clean sheet was enough to keep Boro four points above the Premier League relegation zone after 21 games.
Karanka adopted a back three at Vicarage Road with Chambers, the England international on loan from Arsenal, and Gibson earning special praise from the Boro boss.
“It was a good game for Calum and Gibbo because both of them are young and to play against strikers like [Abdoulaye] Doucoure, [Troy] Deeney and [Stefano] Okaka and to fight for every single ball, and every single second ball, and to have that maturity was important for both of them,” said Karanka.
“They both have a really, really good future.”
Watford enjoyed the best chances of a rather tepid affair, but were unable to find a way past Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
A chorus of boos rang out around Vicarage Road at the final whistle with Watford now without a victory from their last six Premier League matches.
“It is a good point,” admitted Karanka.
“We were better in the first half and they were better in the second half.
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult game.
“We tried to play our style in the first half, but in the second we knew that they are a strong and mature team and the only thing we could do was to defend,” he added.
“We have problems with teams like Watford where they play long balls, with strong players up front, but we were really good today.”
It was an emotionally-charged afternoon at Vicarage Road following the recent death of Graham Taylor.
Taylor, the former Watford manager and chairman who is hailed by the club as the greatest manager in their history, died on Thursday following a suspected heart attack.
Watford paid a glowing tribute to their former manager throughout Saturday’s match with Taylor’s widow Rita among those to join in on a one-minute applause ahead of the Premier League clash.
Watford: Gomes (Pantilimon 66), Kaboul, Prodl, Britos, Kabasele, Capoue, Behrami (Cleverley 77), Holebas (Zuniga 89), Doucoure, Deeney, Okaka. Unused substitutes: Cathcart, Sinclair, Watson, Ighalo.
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Bernardo, Chambers, Gibson, de Roon, Da Silva, Leadbitter, Forshaw, Friend, Negredo, Stuani (Gestede 65). Unused substitutes: Clayton, Fischer, Guzan, Downing, Fry, Traore.
Referee: J Moss (County Durham).