MIDDLESBROUGH chief Jonathan Woodgate was far happier with his side’s performance than he was with the manner in which they lost at Birmingham before the international break.
Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu struck his first goal of the season with eight minutes remaining and that proved enough for West Bromwich.
It was a victory that was a little harsh on Middlesbrough, who created plenty of chances and forced Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone into numerous saves.
But the visitors got the job done to climb two points clear of Leeds, leaving deflated Middlesbrough just a point above the relegation zone after winning just two of their opening 12 matches under head coach Woodgate.
He changed the system to suit his midfielders and it almost paid off. Woodgate, whose side face Huddersfield on Wednesday, said: “I thought we played really well. I thought we created the best chances. Their keeper played well. I can’t remember a save Darren (Randolph) had to make really.
“Okay, they dominated possession but they’re a really good team who will go up this season.
“What I’ve said to the players is ‘keep your heads up. Stay positive, like I am, because if we play like that we will win games of football. No chins on the floor. I want to see you all upbeat and we go again tomorrow’. At the minute we’re down there, but we’re six points off 12th.”
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Fry, Ayala, Shotton, Howson, McNair, Wing, Saville (Browne 88), Johnson, Tavernier (Fletcher 72), Assombalonga. Unused substitutes: Dijksteel, Clayton, Bola, Liddle, Pears.
West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Ferguson, Livermore (Hegazi 90), Sawyers, Matheus Pereira, Krovinovic (Edwards 63), Diangana, Austin (Robson-Kanu 62). Unused substitutes: Brunt, Townsend, Bond, O’Shea.
Referee: O Langford (W Midlands).