MIDDLESBROUGH climbed up to third in the Championship table last night as boss Tony Mowbray hailed his side’s team ethic.
Boro got their home form back on track with a confident 2-0 win over Steve Bruce’s Hull City.
It was frustrating at times as passes narrowly missed their targets in the drizzle, but two goals in seven second-half minutes did the damage.
Firstly, Faris Haroun calmly side-stepped Hull’s keeper before Ishmael Miller got his first for the club with a simple tap-in – which Mowbray hopes will boost his confidence.
“I don’t think it’s about one individual ripping people to bits,” said Mowbray.
“We have a great team ethic.
“We have players who have played particularly well and keeping two clean sheets is important for us.”
The Boro boss is not too keen to start examining the table in much detail yet, saying: “Up until Christmas and New Year you have to be in the right position to compete.
“At the moment we are just trying to edge our points total up and win matches.”
Grant Leadbitter, named Boro’s fifth captain of the season, made a crucial last-ditch tackle on dangerman Aaron McLean to save an almost certain goal.
The bustling ex-Sunderland midfielder was straight back up the other end to make Ben Amos pull off a double save, first from his stinging shot from distance then from a Miller follow-up at point-blank range.
In the second period, Friend stepped out of defence and launched a swift counter attack just before the hour mark.
The impressive left-back gracefully strode through the centre of the park before laying a perfectly-timed through ball at the feet of Haroun.
The Belgian showed plenty of composure as he side-stepped the onrushing Amos before sliding the ball into the net.
Friend again provided the catalyst for the second goal, six minutes later, as he darted into the box between two defenders and Amos could only parry his shot into the middle of the box.
Scott McDonald, with his first touch after coming on as a sub, acrobatically volleyed the ball back at the keeper.
Amos, this time, spilled it to the feet of Miller, who had a simple tap in from a couple of yards out.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Amougou, Friend, Hines, Parnaby, Reach (McDonald), Leadbitter, McEachran (Bailey), Haroun, Emnes, Miller (Ledesma). Subs: Leutwiler, Halliday, Park, Smallwood.
Hull City: Amos, Rosenior (Simpson), Dawson, Chester, McShane, McKenna (Evans), Olofinjana, Elmohamady, Quinn, Mclean, Proschwitz (Aluko). Subs: Oxley, Cooper, Bruce, Townsend.
Ref: Tierney Att: 14,129.