Middlesbrough midfielder Howson thrilled to kick-start season, a week ahead of Tees-Wear derby clash with Sunderland

Middlesbrough's Jonny Howson (red) scraps against Cardiff City's Junior Hoilett in a recent clash.
Middlesbrough's Jonny Howson (red) scraps against Cardiff City's Junior Hoilett in a recent clash.
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Midfielder Jonny Howson was a happy man after Middlesbrough secured a first win in seven matches, with Saturday’s 2-0 Championship success at lowly Reading.

Grant Leadbitter’s penalty and a Britt Assombalonga header earned Boro only their second away win of the campaign.

It is a boost ahead of this coming Sunday’s Tees-Wear derby against Sunderland, plus tomorrow’s trip to Hull, and Howson said: “Obviously it’s what we’ve needed for however many games.

“We were very solid and the lads who came on worked hard. I thought we got our just rewards. They had a lot of the ball, but I don’t think they hurt us too much.

“When you’re going through a bad run, it’s about grinding results out and I think every lad has given all they’ve got there and we got what we wanted.”

Boro gradually made headway after a sluggish start and were rewarded when they went ahead in the 14th minute.

Assombalonga fell in the area under a clumsy challenge from Joey van den Berg and referee Oliver Langford immediately pointed to the spot.

Assombalonga appeared to want to take the penalty himself, but ex- Sunderland midfielder Leadbitter disagreed and held on to the ball before hammering it high into the net.

Assombalonga could have made it 2-0, when latching on to a Paul McShane error, but he flashed a poor shot wide.

Boro held on comfortably, despite Reading’s often frantic efforts, and extended the lead on 74 minutes as Howson crossed from the right and Assombalonga rose highest to nod in from close range.

Sub Marvin Johnson could have extended the winning margin but was denied by a fine late save from Reading’s ex-Sunderland goalkeeper, Vito Mannone.

Boro manager Garry Monk was delighted with a much-needed victory.

“That was an important win for us,” Monk said. “We haven’t been in a good period recently and there’s been a lot of talk about that.

“To put ourselves back on track, we’ve got to strike that right balance between defensive and offensive play.

“We were very good defensively. And were clinical offensively when we needed to be. That’s the way to try to build again and we know that, as we get more confident, we have the players to offensively do very well. It was a really good, solid away performance.”

Reading: Mannone, McShane, Tiago Ilori (Blackett 28), Moore, Gunter, van den Berg (Barrow 68), Kelly (Kermorgant 77), Aluko, Swift, Beerens, Smith. Subs not used: Edwards, Clement, Popa, Jaakkola. Booked: McShane.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Ayala, Gibson, Da Silva, Leadbitter (Forshaw 76), Howson, Downing, Braithwaite (Bamford 89), Tavernier (Johnson 62), Assombalonga. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Fry, Traore. Booked: Assombalonga. Goals: Leadbitter 14 pen, Assombalonga 74.

Att: 17,928. Ref: Oliver Langford (W Midlands).