MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray admitted his side made hard work of a narrow 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over an enterprising Shrewsbury.
The League Two side carved out some fantastic chances early on and even after Boro had settled the nerves with a Marvin Emnes goal just before the break, the visitors could have snatched at least a replay with some late raids.
Mowbray – whose side will now visit Sunderland in the fourth round – acknowledged his side had never really settled.
He said: “It was never comfortable. I have to give them huge credit. They were a credit to their club and to the Second Division.
“They were on the front foot right from the off, played some very positive football and asked us a lot of questions.
“We rode our luck a little at times and yes, they created some good chances.
“But equally, we had chances and if we were a bit more ruthless in front of goal it could have been an easier day for us and we wouldn’t have to worry about equalisers.
“But there’s no easy games, we know that. The FA Cup is littered with giant-killings over the last 100 years. The bottom line is we are in the hat for the next round.”
Perhaps predictably, it was the hosts who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges although the Shrews created the first opportunity.
Taking advantage of some poor defending, Mark Wright surged forward and struck inches wide of goalkeeper Jason Steele’s post.
That spurred the visitors on, with Gornell forcing Steele into a save before Martin hit narrowly wide at the other end.
The game entered a lull thereafter, but Shrewsbury spurned the day’s best chance in the 30th minute as Ainsworth was wide of the mark with the goal gaping.
The Shrews were continuing to enjoy the majority of possession as the first half wore on, with their patient approach causing the home side problems.
But Middlesbrough took an undeserved lead on the stroke of half-time through Emnes.
Martin sent a ball towards the back post and the Dutchman showed neat control to bring the ball down before slotting past a helpless Chris Neal.
Picking up where they left off, Boro looked a different side immediately after the interval, Bart Ogbeche forcing a save from Neal with a fine volley.
Despite dominating possession, though, they were struggling to fashion any real openings, with a high-and-wide Martin free-kick summing up their efforts.
The Shrews were soon on hand to remind the hosts of their presence as Marvin Morgan missed the target prior to Matt Richards forcing a save from Steele.
Emnes could have finished the game off soon after, failing to reap rewards from his own good work as he hit just wide.
But it was the Shrews who were continuing to create the better chances, with Wright striking narrowly wide before Gornell somehow repeated the trick from close range.
Morgan forced a fine save from substitute keeper Danny Coyne in the dying seconds as Boro held on.
Middlesbrough: Steele (Coyne 66), Hoyte, Bennett, Bates, Rhys Williams, Smallwood, Thomson, Martin (Kink 70), Ogbeche, Emnes, McDonald. Subs Not Used: McManus, Hines, Main, McMahon, Reach. Booked: Thomson. Goals: Emnes 40.
Shrewsbury: Chris Neal, Hurst, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, Jacobson, Wright, Richards, McAllister, Ainsworth (Jon Taylor 79), Morgan, Gornell (Collins 79). Subs Not Used: Smith, Grandison, Regan, Bradshaw, Wildig. Booked: Hurst, Richards.
Att: 12,631 Ref: Tony Bates (Staffordshire).