A JUBILANT Jonathan Woodgate hailed Middlesbrough’s first away win of the season as the “complete performance” as they knocked West Brom off top spot and inflicted their first home league defeat since February.

Woodgate’s side controlled the game from start to finish and, after captain Daniel Ayala had given them a 17th-minute lead, Ashley Fletcher, who played for Baggies boss Slaven Bilic at West Ham, sealed the points with a spectacular dipping 30-yard shot in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

It was Boro’s third win in succession and saw Woodgate win the tactical battle over Bilic. The Boro boss explained he played with two holding midfielders to lessen the effect of Baggies’ Brazilian midfielder Mathaus Pereira. The plan worked as Boro brought West Brom’s 14-match unbeaten run to an end.

“It was an excellent performance from start to finish, not many teams have come here and done that,” said Woodgate. “I played with two holding midfielders to nullify the threat of Pereira, who’s their best player. That was important for us.

“In the last five away games, were could’ve won three of them, so we weren’t struggling, we just needed that win. We knew it would come sooner or later. And once we got that second goal, I could actually enjoy it with a minute left. On the break we looked really dangerous.

“But let’s not get carried away, we’re climbing the table and that was a top result against a team who will probably go on to win promotion.

“We knew we wanted to press and press high. It makes it easy for your defenders if you’re putting pressure on them high up the pitch.

“Ayala was top, (Dael) Fry, (Hayden) Coulson, (Jonny) Howson. You have to remember Hayden Coulson was on loan last season at Cambridge, Djed Spence had never even played a game, (Marcus) Tavernier is getting his run in the side. Lewis Wing was playing at Shildon two years ago. Aynsley Pears was on loan last year at Gateshead.

“You have to give those players credit for stepping up to the mark. But you also have your Ayalas, Howsons, I thought (Adam) Clayton and (George) Saville were top drawer as well. It was a complete performance.”

Boro looked a solid unit from the start and, with Woodgate making tweaks to his formation playing a back four, the visitors were rewarded when they took the lead after 17 minutes.

It was a goal of pure simplicity as skipper Ayala ghosted in to connect with Wing’s cross following a corner and head home from inside the six-yard box.

And Boro kept the pressure on with Albion looking shaky as they defended their 14-match unbeaten run.

Three minutes after the goal, Wing saw a shot blocked by Ahmed Hegazi and when the rebound fell to Saville, Baggies keeper Sam Johnstone was on hand to save with his feet.

Boro threatened again when Tavernier’s cross left Johnstone in limbo and brushed the angle of post and bar.

But Bilic’s side stepped it up and came close themselves when Pereira set up Darnell Fulrong for a diving header that was narrowly over the bar.

Saville went close again after 35 minutes when his low shot forced Johnstone into another save.

Johnstone looked to have had a rush of blood when he raced fully ten yards out of his area to clear the danger, but he stayed cool and Albion were able to build on that when Kyle Edwards curled a shot just wide of the far post after a playing a one-two with Hal Robson-Kanu.

Howson then produced a half-volley four minutes before the break which Johnstone collected comfortably.

But the game boiled over after 56 minutes when referee Geoff Eltringham stopped a Baggies breakaway so that Coulson could receive treatment after he had gone down awkwardly.

The decision infuriated Albion’s players who surrounded Eltringham, who booked Livermore for his fierce protest. Johnstone then had to intervene to stop Livermore landing himself in even more trouble.

But the Albion keeper had another panicky moment when he came out to try and beat Wing to the ball but allowed the Boro man to take it past him. It almost led to another Boro goal as Wing laid the ball off for Tavernier, who curled his shot over from the edge of the area.

Boro still looked the more dangerous side and Fletcher raced clear on the left before cutting inside and forcing Johnstone to save at his near post.

Two superb saves in the space of 30 seconds with seven minutes to go, made sure the scoreline stayed the same.

First, Pears brilliantly kept out a header from West Brom substitute Charlie Austin and when play switched to the other end, Johnstone stopped a powerful shot from substitute Marvin Johnson after being set up by Tavernier.

But Boro made sure of the points in stoppage time when Fletcher scored with an amazing shot. Spotting Johnstone off his line, the striker fired home a remarkable long shot that arced over the Baggies goalkeeper before nestling in the net. Quite a way to mark the end of the decade.