MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Pulis has challenged his players to take responsibility in the battle for the Premier League by keeping the pressure on their rivals.

Boro climbed three points clear of seventh placed Bristol City by defeating relegation threatened Barnsley at the Riverside this afternoon.

First half goals from Daniel Ayala and Adama Traore were followed by a third from Patrick Bamford after the restart to put Middlesbrough on track for three points against the Tykes.

But a header from Barnsley’s Keiffer Moore made for a slightly more interesting final 32 minutes, even if Middlesbrough dug in to keep struggling Barnsley at bay.

Pulis said: "First half we did very well, passed it well, played through the pitch and put lots of crosses in. The one disappointment was that we never scored more goals.

“The third goal should have truthfully killed it but we took our foot off the pedal and that's one of the things we've been talking about. You can't do that at any level.

“You've got to make sure you keep your foot on the pedal. It's been a tough week, three really tough games and we've got the points we want and need so I can't be too harsh on them.

"The challenge is to stay in there now. As I've said, we can work all week but once they cross that line they take responsibility and it's up to the players. A lot of things said about managers and coaches, but they have to take responsibility.

“In the next nine games we'll see. I don't know what their characters are like because I've not brought them in, but they've done fantastic since I came here and now we'll see what happens and try to keep it going.”

Middlesbrough midfielder Jonny Howson left the Riverside with an ice pack on his right hand after falling awkwardly in the first half. He will be monitored in the days ahead.