Scott McDonald’s winner has ton-up Tony McMahon celebrating

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BORO defender Tony McMahon celebrated his 100th appearance for the club with an important victory.

It came courtesy of an offside goal from Scott McDonald, but McMahon was just delighted with the three points from the Riverside clash.

“It’s a massive win for us – that’s back-to-back wins at home now.

“We said after the game on Tuesday night at Doncaster that we have to start winning games at home and we’ve done that against Watford.

“As a defender, I’m really pleased to get the clean sheet as well. We made it difficult late on and we should have finished them off.

“We’ll take the break now and take the rest. Hopefully we can come back strong against Blackpool.”

McDonald will go in to the break a relieved man. He has cut a frustrated figure in recent weeks, plugging away next to the free-scoring Marvin Emnes.

But the struggling Aussie finally got just reward for his tireless work – with a bit of help from a forgiving linesman and the break of the ball.

The only goal was just McDonald’s second this season and first in 12 games.

The scrappy winner summed up an ugly tea-time game that was unfortunately captured on live TV and seen by few fans in the ground – with perhaps the fireworks bursting near the Riverside partly to blame.

With four minutes of the first half left, a dogged Merouane Zemmama won the ball near the half way line and jinked his way to towards the edge of the box, where he laid the ball off to Barry Robson.

The Scot brilliantly slipped in McDonald, whose right-footed effort was charged down by Scott Loach. But the ball bounced back perfectly onto the Aussie’s left foot and he could not miss the gaping goal.

Replays showed he was a yard offside, but Boro fans and McDonald didn’t care as they celebrated his first goal since the opening week of the season.

Boro had almost taken the lead after just 18 seconds as Barry Robson cut out a stray pass then wriggled into the box to drill a low shot just wide.

Then, on two minutes, Zemmama found McDonald in the box and his half-volley sent Scott Loach full length to save. Marvin Emnes then stabbed the ball into the side netting.

Watford went close on 20 minutes as Chris Iwelumo cut into the box from the right to bring a good save from Jason Steele.

After Boro had taken the lead, Watford threatened occasionally with a barrage of corners and from one on 57 minutes, Carl Dickinson had an effort blocked on the line.

In a late flurry, Boro brought saves out of Loach as first Emnes then McMahon had good efforts.

Middlesbrough: Steele, McMahon, McManus, Bates, Bennett, Robson, Rhys Williams, Bailey, Zemmama (Haroun 59), Emnes, McDonald (Ogbeche 70). Subs Not Used: Arca, Martin, Smallwood. Booked: Robson. Goals: McDonald 41.

Watford: Loach, Hodson (Forsyth 90), Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson, Yeates, Buaben (Jenkins 83), Hogg, Deeney, Sordell, Iwelumo (Beattie 65). Subs Not Used: Gilmartin, Mirfin. Booked: Hogg.

Att: 14,366 Ref: Jock Waugh (South Yorkshire).