Scott McDonald scored the only goal of the game to ensure Middlesbrough stayed within touching distance of the Championship's automatic promotion places.

Watford, who matched their hosts for most of the game, will feel aggrieved at the manner of their defeat.

Former Celtic striker McDonald looked offside for the winning goal, scored just five minutes before the break.

Victory keeps Middlesbrough in third place behind Southampton and West Ham.

Watford, who came into the game on the back of successive league wins for the first time this season, could have conceded three in the opening six minutes.

Barry Robson dragged a shot wide, then McDonald's first-time volley was hit into the ground for a comfortable Loach save before top scorer Marvin Emnes mis-hit a shot wide from close range in the seventh minute.

A faulty fire alarm saw an evacuation begin at the Riverside, only for those who had left to be called back, having missed none of an increasingly scrappy affair.

But a goal duly arrived five minutes before half-time, in controversial circumstances.

Merouane Zemmama battled brilliantly to win the ball from Lee Hodson and drove forward to pick out Robson, the former Celtic man showing quick feet to release McDonald, who was clearly offside.

Unperturbed, the Australian's first shot was well stopped by Loach but made no mistake to slot home from the follow-up.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (5)

Middlesbrough

  • 01 Steele
  • 03 Bennett
  • 04 Bates
  • 06 McManus
  • 14 Williams
  • 29 McMahon
  • 05 Zemmama (Haroun - 59' )
  • 10 Bailey
  • 17 Robson Booked
  • 07 McDonald (Ogbeche - 70' )
  • 09 Emnes

Substitutes

  • 18 Arca
  • 22 Martin
  • 33 Smallwood
  • 38 Haroun
  • 16 Ogbeche

Watford

  • 01 Loach
  • 02 Hodson (Forsyth - 90' )
  • 03 Dickinson
  • 06 Mariappa
  • 33 Nosworthy
  • 07 Yeates
  • 19 Buaben (Jenkins - 83' )
  • 32 Hogg Booked
  • 09 Deeney
  • 10 Iwelumo (Beattie - 65' )
  • 20 Sordell

Substitutes

  • 13 Gilmartin
  • 21 Mirfin
  • 11 Forsyth
  • 14 Jenkins
  • 37 Beattie
Ref: Waugh
Att: 14,366

Match Stats

Shots

12 9

On target

7 5

Corners

5 10

Fouls

10 12

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:34 Full time

Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.

90:00 +3:21

Direct free kick taken by Matthew Bates.

90:00 +3:21 Booking

Booking Caution for Jonathan Hogg.

90:00 +3:15

Foul by Jonathan Hogg on Faris Haroun, free kick awarded.

90:00 +2:01

Bart Ogbeche takes a shot. Carl Dickinson gets a block in.

90:00 +0:23 Substitution

Substitution (Watford) makes a substitution, with Craig Forsyth coming on for Lee Hodson.

89:41

Short corner taken by Barry Robson from the right by-line.

89:34

Tony McMahon delivers the ball, Adrian Mariappa makes a clearance.

87:27

Foul by Faris Haroun on Carl Dickinson, free kick awarded. Mark Yeates crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel.

86:06

The ball is swung over by Marvin Sordell, clearance made by Matthew Bates.

85:26

Tony McMahon sends in a cross, clearance by Nyron Nosworthy.

84:19

Nyron Nosworthy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rhys Williams. Nicky Bailey takes the direct free kick.

83:20

Direct free kick taken by Scott Loach.

83:20 Booking

Booking The referee shows Barry Robson a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

83:04

Free kick awarded for a foul by Barry Robson on Lee Hodson.

82:25 Substitution

Substitution Ross Jenkins on for Prince Buaben.

81:11

Corner from the left by-line taken by Tony McMahon, save by Scott Loach.

80:58

Rhys Williams takes a shot. Nyron Nosworthy gets a block in.

79:59

Foul by Craig Beattie on Bart Ogbeche, free kick awarded. Jason Steele takes the free kick.

78:04

Barry Robson sends in a cross.

76:33

The ball is crossed by Matthew Bates, Jonathan Hogg manages to make a clearance.

76:20

Tony McMahon produces a cross, clearance by Carl Dickinson.

76:03

Joe Bennett sends in a cross, save by Scott Loach.

75:30

Marvin Emnes takes a shot. Save by Scott Loach.

75:02

Rhys Williams fouled by Jonathan Hogg, the ref awards a free kick. Barry Robson restarts play with the free kick.

74:26

Mark Yeates concedes a free kick for a foul on Tony McMahon. Nicky Bailey takes the direct free kick.

74:09

A cross is delivered by Mark Yeates, save by Jason Steele.

72:56

Lee Hodson takes a shot from just outside the penalty area which clears the crossbar.

72:42

Corner taken by Mark Yeates played to the near post, clearance made by Stephen McManus.

72:14

Corner taken by Mark Yeates, Stephen McManus makes a clearance.

72:01

Mark Yeates takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Bates.

71:27

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Mark Yeates played to the near post.

70:54

Faris Haroun challenges Mark Yeates unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Mark Yeates from left channel, Barry Robson makes a clearance.

69:51 Substitution

Substitution Bart Ogbeche on for Scott McDonald.

69:21

The ball is delivered by Rhys Williams, Shot from deep inside the area by Faris Haroun clears the crossbar.

66:25

Tony McMahon crosses the ball, clearance by Jonathan Hogg.

65:50

Centre by Carl Dickinson.

65:14

A cross is delivered by Jonathan Hogg, clearance made by Rhys Williams.

64:40 Substitution

Substitution Craig Beattie replaces Chris Iwelumo.

63:52

Tony McMahon challenges Prince Buaben unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Mark Yeates, clearance made by Matthew Bates.

61:43

Corner taken left-footed by Barry Robson from the left by-line, clearance made by Marvin Sordell.

61:10

Corner from the left by-line taken by Barry Robson, Nyron Nosworthy manages to make a clearance.

61:04

Joe Bennett crosses the ball, Lee Hodson gets a block in.

60:45

Faris Haroun takes a shot. Nyron Nosworthy gets a block in.

60:29

The ball is crossed by Joe Bennett.

60:22

The ball is swung over by Tony McMahon.

58:43 Substitution

Substitution (Middlesbrough) makes a substitution, with Faris Haroun coming on for Merouane Zemmama.

57:48

Corner from the left by-line taken by Mark Yeates, clearance by Rhys Williams.

57:26

Scott McDonald takes a shot. Save made by Scott Loach.

56:08

Corner taken by Mark Yeates, Carl Dickinson takes a shot. Blocked by Joe Bennett.

55:53

Mark Yeates sends in a cross.

54:30

Jonathan Hogg sends in a cross, save by Jason Steele.

53:43

Outswinging corner taken by Mark Yeates.

53:24

Jonathan Hogg sends in a cross, save by Jason Steele.

51:21

Corner taken right-footed by Mark Yeates from the right by-line, clearance by Nicky Bailey.

51:05

The offside flag is raised against Marvin Emnes. Scott Loach takes the indirect free kick.

50:01

Jonathan Hogg is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by Nicky Bailey.

48:19

Centre by Mark Yeates, Troy Deeney takes a shot. Jason Steele makes a save.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +2:24 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

45:00 +0:15

The ball is delivered by Merouane Zemmama.

43:47

Prince Buaben concedes a free kick for a foul on Rhys Williams. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.

43:38

Centre by Mark Yeates, clearance by Nicky Bailey.

43:02

Tony McMahon sends in a cross, save by Scott Loach.

40:41

Barry Robson provided the assist for the goal.

40:41 Goal scored

Goal! - Scott McDonald - Middlesbro 1 - 0 Watford Scott McDonald finds the net with a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Middlesbrough 1-0 Watford.

39:11

Nicky Bailey fouled by Troy Deeney, the ref awards a free kick. Joe Bennett takes the free kick.

38:42

The ball is crossed by Barry Robson.

37:01

Tony McMahon produces a cross.

36:34

The offside flag is raised against Marvin Sordell. Stephen McManus takes the direct free kick.

35:07

Prince Buaben has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide left of the goal.

34:33

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Marvin Emnes by Jonathan Hogg. Joe Bennett restarts play with the free kick.

33:28

The ball is sent over by Mark Yeates, blocked by Barry Robson.

33:07

Mark Yeates takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Rhys Williams.

32:24

Tony McMahon challenges Mark Yeates unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mark Yeates crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made by Stephen McManus.

29:20

The ball is delivered by Barry Robson, Nyron Nosworthy makes a clearance.

28:09

Effort from the edge of the box by Prince Buaben goes wide of the right-hand upright.

26:12

Barry Robson fouled by Lee Hodson, the ref awards a free kick. Tony McMahon crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Scott Loach.

23:51

Centre by Barry Robson, Adrian Mariappa manages to make a clearance.

21:17

Outswinging corner taken by Mark Yeates from the right by-line, Adrian Mariappa takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Bates.

20:50

Chris Iwelumo takes a shot. Jason Steele makes a save.

20:11

The referee penalises Troy Deeney for handball. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.

19:52

Tony McMahon takes a shot. Prince Buaben gets a block in.

19:47

Joe Bennett sends in a cross, Nyron Nosworthy manages to make a clearance.

19:03

Free kick awarded for a foul by Chris Iwelumo on Matthew Bates. Jason Steele restarts play with the free kick.

18:28

Foul by Stephen McManus on Chris Iwelumo, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Mark Yeates.

16:04

Effort from the edge of the box by Marvin Emnes goes wide of the left-hand upright.

15:43

A cross is delivered by Carl Dickinson.

15:02

Free kick awarded for a foul by Tony McMahon on Troy Deeney. Scott Loach takes the free kick.

13:41

Foul by Joe Bennett on Lee Hodson, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Scott Loach.

12:19

Unfair challenge on Scott McDonald by Nyron Nosworthy results in a free kick. Joe Bennett restarts play with the free kick.

10:58

The ball is sent over by Lee Hodson.

9:00

The official flags Marvin Emnes offside. Free kick taken by Scott Loach.

8:20

Mark Yeates concedes a free kick for a foul on Barry Robson. Joe Bennett restarts play with the free kick.

6:13

Corner from the left by-line taken by Tony McMahon, Shot from inside the six-yard box by Marvin Emnes goes wide right of the target.

5:41

The official flags Marvin Sordell offside. Jason Steele restarts play with the free kick.

5:04

The ball is crossed by Merouane Zemmama, clearance made by Adrian Mariappa.

4:37

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Mark Yeates from the left by-line.

4:17

Prince Buaben takes a shot. Blocked by Rhys Williams.

3:42

Mark Yeates fouled by Merouane Zemmama, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Scott Loach.

3:34

The ball is delivered by Merouane Zemmama, clearance made by Adrian Mariappa.

3:00

Scott McDonald takes a shot. Scott Loach makes a save.

1:42

Merouane Zemmama concedes a free kick for a foul on Carl Dickinson. Free kick taken by Scott Loach.

0:16

Barry Robson has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.

0:00

The game kicks-off.

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