West Bromwich Albion substitute Hal Robson-Kanu supplied the knockout punch as the Championship leaders stole a victory at the Riverside.
It was a game where visiting goalkeeper Sam Johnstone turned in a masterclass to keep West Brom in the game before Robson-Kanu was able to pounce eight minutes from time after Boro failed to clear their lines.
Boro’s own Darren Randolph, a star of the show on so many occasions since his arrival over two years ago, was a virtual spectator for much of the game as Boro made the majority of the running against a side who are likely to be playing Premier League football next season.
Jonathan Woodgate, who was demanding a response after a disappointing performance at Birmingham, had his team well prepared and with a plan that was executed so well, Boro were able to dominate large chunks of the game while the visitors only really threatened in the closing stages.
The tone was set inside two minutes when Marvin Johnson fed Britt Assombalonga and his deft flick was gathered by Johnstone. Moments later, It took great reaction from Ryan Shotton to block a Filip Krovinovic shot, but that was the only time the visitors almost troubled Boro in the first half.
Paddy McNair cut in from the left and Johnstone had to be alert to get a vital touch to turn it over the bar.
A string of corners followed and there was a penalty shout after McNair appeared to be hauled to the ground during one goalmouth melee as the visitors struggled to clear their lines.
Johnstone again had to react quickly to punch away a Jonny Howson ball into the box, but where the ball fell back out to the feet of Lewis Wing, his shot was over the top.
Assombalonga was a constant threat, giving Kyle Bartley a tough examination, and Boro’s aggressive style certainly had the league leaders on the back foot.
On the stroke of half-time, Johnstone had to save well again from Assombalonga and then the keeper had to react well to turn George Saville’s follow-up over the bar.
The game opened up a notch in the second half, but Saville was again denied by the legs of Johnstone before Johnson had a shot blocked.
Boro did have more defending to do as the visitors looked to make their presence felt, but Woodgate’s side were organised and resolute and when he was called upon, Randolph was as alert as ever.
West Brom wasted a couple of decent opportunities, and Boro almost profited when Ashley Fletcher led a quick break and after Saville was denied by Johnstone again, Fletcher lifted the follow-up over the bar.
But Boro were made to pay eight minutes from time when a cross wasn’t cleared, Randolph reacted well to pull off a save, and Robson-Kanu was waiting on the line to tap the ball home.