Report from the Riverside...
Duncan Watmore’s first goals in almost 14 months inspired Boro to victory against Swansea City.
The former Sunderland marksman showed why Neil Warnock was so keen to sign him by bagging both goals in a 2-1 win against the Swans.
The performance and the victory was just what Warnock wanted after the weekend defeat at Huddersfield, and a win that lifts Boro back into touching distance of the play-off places was more than deserved against a Swansea side who could have gone top.
Marcus Tavernier had a shot blocked after good work by Jonny Howson and Chuba Akpom was denied by the quick thinking Freddie Woodman following a neat ball from Watmore.
In reply, Marcus Bettinelli was called upon to save from Jamal Lowe before 23 was also denied by a good block.
But Boro were 1-0 up before the half-hour when Marvin Johnson played a delightful ball to Watmore and the club’s most recent signing worked himself the chance to shoot before applying the finishing touch via a deflection.
Watmore was involved again with another run and neat pull-back, but Woodman got down well to deny Sam Morsy. And when Boro threatened again, Djed Spence’s ball in narrowly eluded an advanced Tavernier and went to safety.
The visitors made a triple change at half-time and it was one of those substitutes who was presented with a chance early in the second half when Viktor Gyorkeres shot over the bar after Bettinelli came off his line.
In the Swansea goal, Woodman had to react quickly to block at his near post after a Watmore ball into the box was deflected goalwards and moments later he pulled off an acrobatic save to deny Johnson from the edge of the box.
Morsy was next to be denied by a desperate block from and from the resultant corner Woodman had to claw the ball out of his top corner and over the top.
It was 2-0, though, when Watmore bagged his second of the night. Paddy McNair stepped out of defence and fed the forward, and once he again he showed good feet and good composure before drilling the ball past Woodman to give Boro a two-goal cushion.
Swansea set up a tense finale when Yan Dhanda pulled a goal back thanks to the aid of a deflection which left Bettinelli with too much to do.
But despite a flurry of corners, Boro's backline remained resilient to seal the result.