MIDDLESBROUGH caretaker-manager Mark Venus had nothing but praise his players despite losing his first game in temporary charge.
Jason Lowe scored his first ever goal for Blackburn – a spectacular long-range strike – as they ended a run of three games without a win with a 1-0 victory against Boro.
The result leaves Boro still searching for back-to-back wins this calendar year.
Venus said: “I think it was a hard-fought game with two teams competing well and it was a great goal to decide the game.
“I feel we didn’t lose that game through lack of effort or desire. They were all tired at the end and gave everything they had.”
Venus admitted that his side didn’t do enough to win the game and the result leaves Boro without a win on the road since their visit to Charlton in August.
He said: “Blackburn kept the ball a bit better and were a bit more progressive but we’re not a team at the top of the league. We’re trying to improve and need to improve in those aspects of the game, and we knew that before the game.
“We came, got organised but probably didn’t make their goalkeeper make enough saves to be honest.”
The visitors were by far the most impressive side early on but it was Blackburn who forced the first save when Alan Judge’s superb curling free kick was brilliantly tipped behind by Jason Steele after 12 minutes.
More than half of Blackburn’s league goals this season have come from Jordan Rhodes and he would have had another but for a wonderful save by Steele after 37 minutes. Tom Cairney’s inswinging cross from the right found the striker who headed towards the goalkeeper’s left but Steele somehow adjusted his body to claw the ball behind.
The away side had to wait until the final minute of the first half to register their first shot on target as Rhys Williams floated in a deep cross for Kei Kamara, whose downward header was scrambled behind by Jake Kean.
Blackburn were almost gifted a goal in first-half injury time when Grant Leadbitter inexplicably fed Joshua King, whose ferocious strike was tipped behind by Steele.
Rovers were incensed after 68 minutes when Matt Kilgallon went down under the challenge of Jonathan Woodgate but the referee was unmoved.
It required something special to beat Steele and Lowe duly provided it in the 76th minute with a thunderous 25-yard strike that flew into the top corner.
Blackburn Rovers: Kean, Kane, Dann, Kilgallon (Marshall 77), Spurr (Morris 21), Cairney, Lowe, Williamson, King, Judge (Taylor 74), Rhodes. Subs not used: Eastwood, Songo’o, Marrow, Henley. Booked: Kane. Goals: Lowe 76.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Rhys Williams, Woodgate, Ayala, Friend, Smallwood, Varga (Carayol 72), Adomah (Butterfield 85), Leadbitter, Emnes (Jutkiewicz 72), Kamara. Subs not used: Richardson, Hines, Gibson, Leutwiler. Booked: Ayala, Woodgate, Smallwood, Emnes, Rhys Williams.
Att: 16,645. Ref: Carl Boyeson (E Yorkshire).