IT was clear to see what his first victory as the head coach of his hometown team meant to Jonathan Woodgate, as he walked straight on to the pitch and applauded the fans and his players after the final whistle was blown.

Despite having to withstand some heavy pressure from Wigan Athletic, who are right to feel like they could easily have come away with something, Britt Assombalonga’s 23rd minute header proved decisive.

Woodgate has sealed that elusive maiden win of his managerial career and it was clear for everyone to see inside the Riverside just how much it meant to him – just a week after being left deflated by a Carabao Cup defeat to Crewe here.

For someone whose playing career even had the honour of taking in Real Madrid playing for the Galacticos, Woodgate will never forget this victory over Paul Cook’s Wigan in front of a crowd of just less than 19,000 on his Teesside turf.

The 39-year-old will not be entirely satisfied by the manner of the victory, there was plenty room for improvement and a lot of mistakes were made. That, though, did not seem to matter as he walked across the pitch to celebrate with the supporters and his players.

This might only be the first win in five matches this season, but how Boro and Woodgate needed it. Now they will be desperate to follow that up to with a second victory over Millwall on Saturday to really get the Woodgate revolution moving.

There were always going to be players who paid the price for the defeat to Blackburn and Woodgate made three changes – and even then it didn’t look like his tinkering would have the desired effect.

As well as the enforced injury issue with George Friend, he also made the decision to name Anfernee Dijksteel and Marvin Johnson on the bench. Neither were effective at Ewood Park, although they were certainly not the only ones.

Dijksteel found his needlessly conceded penalty mistake crucial, and he never really recovered from that on his first league start for the club at the weekend.

Woodgate wanted to see better first Championship outings in a Middlesbrough shirt from Marcus Browne and Marc Bola, who got another chance after the disappointment of playing a part in the defeat to League Two’s Crewe in the Carabao Cup a week earlier.

The Middlesbrough boss had called for calm and patience in the build up to the game but the reality was that consecutive games this week at the Riverside provide the ideal opportunity to give his reign a kick-start.

The Latics were hardly in the best of form, having lost their previous three matches since beating Cardiff on the opening weekend. Paul Cook, Wigan’s manager, turned to a player who interested Middlesbrough in the summer for his own lift, by giving Jamal Lowe his first start after leaving Portsmouth.

He was quick to cause problems and looked to impress. When Adam Clayton got himself in a mess on the edge of the area, as the hosts attempted to play out from the back, Lowe almost made the most of it.

Having nicked the ball off Clayton, Gavin Massey then rolled him into the penalty area and when Lowe hammered the target with a precise shot, goalkeeper Darren Randolph had to be alert to turn behind for a corner.

There was more to come from Wigan in the opening exchanges of the half. Middlesbrough offered them plenty of encouragement too by displaying some nerves and anxiety in possession, rather than the bravery Woodgate has demanded.

There was one early attacking move from Middlesbrough down the right to raise spirits. Half the team touched the ball, preventing the blue shirts from getting it, and when Paddy McNair delivered to the near post it was not a million miles away from being turned goalwards by Ashley Fletcher.

After that there was a decent spell from Wigan. Massey and Lowe were heavily involved and the former was unable to test Randolph from a good position having seen full-back Nathan Byrne being allowed to run 40 yards and try his luck.

Lowe linked up well with another Wigan summer signing Kieffer Moore and Lowe came within inches of curling inside Randolph’s bottom left corner when he created space for himself to shoot.

At that stage there were hints of a boo or two coming from the home fans as Boro struggled to find a pass to their own man, but then they got the breakthrough against the run of play.

It came from the right again. This time Howson was fed possession down the line and it needed something special to find the six-yard box and he delivered, precisely finding the head of Assombalonga to nod Middlesbrough ahead.

Even after that it took Middlesbrough more time to get going. There were still wasteful moments in possession and Randolph was called into action too many times, although not asked to make too many genuine saves.

But Middlesbrough found space themselves in the attacking third when they did advance. In one of those attacks, there were strong claims from the home fans for a penalty but referee Keith Stroud was right to have deemed Danny Fox had made a brilliantly timed tackle on Ashley Fletcher.

Around that time there was also a fantastic save from David Marshall to deny Assombalonga a second, when McNair turned the rebound into the side-netting, but had that gone in it would have completely painted an unfair picture on the visitors.

Woodgate tried to mix things up at the break, sensing the left-hand side was not as effective as the right. After Browne made way for Marvin Johnson, Bola was then replaced by George Saville for the final 24 minutes.

After that Wigan did most of the pressing, without really testing Randolph. There was a late scare when a dubious corner was awarded to the visitors, but Middlesbrough escaped and Woodgate could celebrate.