Stoke City 0 Middlesbrough 2 - Player ratings

MIDDLESBROUGH made a winning start to life under Neil Warnock with a vital 2-0 victory over Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.

OPENER: Ashley Fletcher is congratulated by Patrick Roberts after scoring Middlesbrough's first goal at Stoke City. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

The win was only their second from their 12 league outings, with goals from Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier either side of the interval securing all three points.

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Here are the match ratings as Boro leapfrogged Stoke to move further away from the relegation places.

KEPT OUT: Middlesbrough's defence held firm at Stoke City. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Dejan Stojanovic, 8: The Middlesbrough goalkeeper made a string of fine saves with the game still in the balance, keeping out three efforts from James McClean who could have had a hat-trick.

Marvin Johnson, 7: Solid enough at the back as he helped Middlesbrough keep what was only their second clean sheet in 12 outings.

George Friend, 7: Commanding presence at the back as Boro leapfrogged Stoke and boosted their survival hopes.

Daniel Fry, 8: Made two key blocks to get his side out of trouble. Stoke had 22 shots but were limited to few clear-cut chances.

AT THE HELM: Neil Warnock enjoyed a winning start to his Middlesbrough tenure. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Djed Spence, 7: Another key defensive cog for Warnock's charges.

George Saville, 7: Helped press well and was on hand to help out at right-back to deal with the threat of James McClean.

Jonny Howson, 7: Was deployed in a central midfield role after being used as a right-back in last week's defeat to Swansea City. Helped control the tempo and managed the game well in the final half hour.

Paddy McNair, 6: Did a good job in the first half but was subbed just after the second goal, which had come after a period of domination from the hosts.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: The scene at an empty Bet365 Stadium. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Britt Assombalonga, 8: An excellent display from the centre forward who held the ball up well to relieve pressure. Did a superb job in the final half hour when he was left up top on his own.

Ashley Fletcher, 8: His header put Boro ahead, a key moment following a spell of dominance from the hosts.

Patrick Roberts, 7: Provided a delicious cross for the opener and enjoyed a bright start to the game. Was replaced by Tavernier just after the hour.

Substitues: Marcus Tavernier (Patrick Roberts 61) 7

Lewis Wing (Paddy McNair 63) 7

Ryan Shotton (George Saville 81) 7

Not used: Adam Clayton, Ravel Morrison, Harold Moukoudi, Lukas Nmecha, Nathan Wood-Gordon, Aynsley Pears.

Stoke City: Butland; Smith, Batth, Chester, Martins Indi (Vokes 58); Sorensen (Ince 41), Thompson (Cousins 58); McClean, Powell, Clucas; Campbell (Gregory 79). Unused substitutes: Ward, Davies, Oakley-Boothe, Tymon, Collins.