An unfortunate Ashley Fletcher own goal proved decisive as Boro suffered defeat at the hands of Cardiff City.
Fletcher turned a Josh Murphy corner beyond Darren Randolph inside the opening three minutes and even though it didn’t tell the story of the game, it certainly settled the outcome of a clash where honours even would perhaps have been more than a fair result.
Other than diverting a Murphy cross away to safety moments after the goal, it was almost 30 minutes before Randolph was called upon to make a save such was Boro’s territorial domination.
Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga linked up well together and looked more than capable of causing the home side problems, and with a little more guile in the final third, Boro would almost certainly have been back on terms before the break.
Paddy McNair sent one effort wide and Anfernee Dijksteel had two shots blocked from outside of the box when he pushed forward. McNair also sent a free-kick over the top, but it was the movement of Fletcher and Assombalonga that caused the hosts real problems.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Cardiff goalkeeper Alex Smithies did well to smother the ball at the feet of Assombalonga after some great build-up work from Dael Fry and Fletcher to create the opportunity.
With Boro dominating all the stats at half-time - apart from the key one in the goals scored column - it was inevitable that Cardiff would come out stronger after the break.
Practically straight from the re-start, Omar Bogle shot wide after being released by Joe Ralls, and Cardiff enjoyed their first real spell of pressure during the game.
But things were still open. George Saville shot over after Ryan Shotton neatly laid an Adam Clayton ball into his path, and at the other end Bogle wasted Cardiff’s best chance when he headed over a Junior Hoilett cross from close range.
That would have sealed it for the home side, but Saville had another effort blocked after McNair found Assombalonga with a delightful ball and a great opening was thwarted when a Marvin Johnson cross was turned to safety.
For the home side Sean Morrison headed onto the roof of the net after Aden Flint headed a corner back across goal, but Cardiff were unable to capitalise on their second half superiority, just as Boro were unable to in the first half, and it was that early own goal that settled matters.