Middlesbrough 2-0 Barnsley: Hines is head boy
Published 21:45 06/03/12 By Simon Bird
Seb Hines gave Boro relief from their toils at the Riverside and handed their play-off hopes a massive boost.
The defender popped up on the hour with his first of the season to put the home crowd out of their misery.
It was painstaking stuff - a flat atmosphere and little verve from Boro until Yorkshire-born Hines showed up in Barnsley's box to head home a Barry Robson corner.
It took until stoppage time before Boro put some gloss on the evening and gave themselves a comfort zone.
Striker Bart Ogbeche, on as a substitute, intercepted as keeper Luke Steele tried to pass out of defence, and with the stopper scrambling back to goal, he neatly chipped home.
Boro now face fellow promotion chasers Leeds on Sunday and boss Tony Mowbray said: "It was a difficult match, like most of the season. It is torture standing there watching it. That is the Championship.
"Barnsley deserve credit because they are a nice footballing team and express themselves. Teams at the top are finding it difficult to keep getting points.
"Massive credit for the lads having had a long journey at the weekend to the south coast and get a result again.
"Was it a leggy performance and below our best? Yes. But we dug it out even though it looked a bit patched together. At the end of this month we will know if we are in promotion contention. Two wins is a great start.
"We have three home games this month and we have to strive to find our form here."
Boro were under pressure in the last 10 minutes, and Steele had to produce a sharp save on the line when Jay McEveley headed a Dave Cotterill corner goalward.
Barnsley boss Keith Hill said: "We should have got something but individual errors cost us. A lack of concentration cost us. But I take encouragement from the performance which bodes well for Southampton at the weekend."
Lacklustre Boro were booed off by a small section of the frustrated crowd after ambling through the first half without urgency or potency.
But they improved and marginally deserved to clinch the points, although Hill's side were organised and hard working.
Mowbray is seeking a formula to end their Riverside Stadium troubles.
Of the 18 games Boro have played at home this season on the league, they have now won seven.
But it is the eight draws and three defeats which mean 25 points dropped in front of their own fans.
They would be considerably higher than their current position of fourth had they cashed in more on Teesside.
Mowbray had urged Boro to be more forceful in attack to bolster their play-off bid that was revived at the weekend by winning at Portsmouth.
But the first half ambled by without any side dominating and precious few action moments.
The Boro boss wants striker Marvin Emnes to be more greedy, and the Dutchman had the best chance of the opening 45.
A fine ball by Robson sent him in the clear and his volley was well saved by Steele.
That was the gist of the half, with the only other action moments being when Joe Bennett and Justin Hoyte lashed crossed into the area with Emnes unable to turn in.
Robson is now walking a disciplinary tight-rope after picking up his 13th booking of the season - just two more yellows and he will get a three-match ban.