EVERTON boss David Moyes last night dismissed as "nonsense'' an apparent claim by Middlesbrough counterpart Steve McClaren that his side were guilty of unsporting conduct in a heated encounter.

McClaren rounded on Moyes in an unseemly touchline spat, claiming Everton players failed to return the ball after Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer conceded a throw-in to allow Wayne Rooney to receive treatment.

But Moyes, who was manhandled by McClaren as tempers boiled over, said: "Tommy Gravesen went to knock the ball back to their keeper from the throw-in, but one of their players closed him down and the ball came back to us.

"Maybe they thought we had instructed him to keep the ball, which was nonsense.''

McClaren was more circumspect and refused to be drawn on the incident, dismissing it as symptomatic of the passions aroused in the heat of battle.

"I'm making no real comment on that,'' said McClaren. "It was something everybody saw and you make your own judgements.

"These things happen in football - it's a passionate game. Tempers get frayed but it was eventually defused and we shook hands at the end.

"But several things annoyed me in the game and I got irate. That was just one of many incidents.''

Boro's big gripe was the failure of referee Alan Wiley and his assistant to award a goal when Franck Queudrue's first-half header hit the underside of the bar and crossed the line.

Mr Wiley last week publicly apologised for awarding a penalty to Arsenal when Robert Pires clearly took a dive to earn his side a penalty and a point against Portsmouth at Highbury.

Yesterday, both McClaren and Moyes baulked at talk of an introduction of video replays to decide close goalline calls.

McClaren preferred to dwell on the relief of seeing his side achieve their first win this season thanks to Joseph-Desire Job's sixth-minute goal.

The Boro boss said: "Getting your first win is never easy and it was very important.

"We got it by playing some great football in the first half and scoring an early goal.

"After that we dominated and needed a second goal; we thought we had it from the corner. Unfortunately, the linesman didn't see it cross the line.

"Maybe we'll get an apology from the referee in the papers this week!

"But people make mistakes; players do, we do, linesmen and referees do. It's part and parcel of the game.''

McClaren had demanded a marked improvement in his players' approach after the abject 2-0 defeat at Bolton - and he wasn't disappointed.

He said: "We won the game with the right attitude and a will to win. We got back to basics and did what was needed to win. We have the players and if we carry on with this attitude, we'll be OK.''

McClaren controversially kept Juninho in reserve yesterday, but said: "After last week's result, it could have been any one of the 11 who were left out.

"He's disappointed but we're asking all our players to make sure they react in the right way and Juninho did that here.''

Read more about Middlesbrough here.