TONY Mowbray admitted he got a lucky break with the late penalty which swung a tight match Middlesbrough’s way.
However, he insisted the 2-0 Riverside victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers was “no daylight robbery.”
The game was fizzling out when Scott McDonald fired a hopeful ball into the box and it hit Wolves man Karl Henry on the arm as he took evasive action.
The linesman indicated the offence and the referee pointed to the spot, sparking fury among the visiting players and management.
It was the Teessiders’ first penalty at the Riverside in almost two years.
The last came 44 games ago in January 2011 in a 4-3 defeat to Swansea – and was given by the same referee Robert Madley.
Marvin Emnes slotted home the 88th-minute spot-kick and then McDonald twisted the knife for Wolves as he lashed home a second to seal it deep in stoppage time.
However, Mowbray insisted the referee was spot-on.
He said: “We were maybe a bit fortunate with the decision, but it is not as if it was daylight robbery.
“I’m not going to question the integrity of the officials because they call it honestly every game.
“The officials felt the boy leant into the ball and led with his arm and that’s why the linesman called it how he did.
“We’ve had them go against us a few times. You have to accept decisions and get on with it.
“I think it was harsh on them because they are a good side and they probably think they did enough to earn a point.
“Maybe we got more than we deserved but I can’t remember then pounding our goal with shot after shot. They fired a few straight at our goalkeeper.
“It was a tight game and we weren’t at our most polished but we got the break, took our chances and got the points. It’ll do.”
Mowbray was delighted with the way his side bounced back from a cruel midweek defeat at top-flight Swansea.
The Teessiders had dominated the Capital One Cup quarter-final, only to lose to a late own goal and picked up a string of injuries along the way.
Mowbray had to make six changes and throw in some youngsters so was pleased to clock up a second successive scrappy league win on a day when the top two dropped points.
He added: “It was a huge result for us in a game we knew was going to to be tough hot on the heels of the game at Swansea.
“I was so pleased with them, so proud of them.
“It wasn’t the greatest performance, we weren’t slick and we didn’t move the ball around the pitch as we can, but we got there. Some other results went our way so it was a good day to win but it is still very tight in this league.”
Boro’s best first-half effort came as Ishmael Miller cut in just before the break to drill across the face of goal.
Both sides seemed to have accepted a stalemate when Boro were gifted the controversial penalty two minutes from time and Emnes stayed cool to slot home.
Then, four minutes into stoppage time, Emnes ambled forward after a Wolves attack broke down.
He squared the ball to send McDonald forward to leather in an angled drive and seal Boro’s win.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele, Friend (Parnaby 80), Woodgate, Hines, Hoyte, Luke Williams (Emnes 62), McEachran, Leadbitter, Smallwood, Miller (Ledesma 62), McDonald. Subs (not used): Leutwiler, Thomson, Bailey, Jutkiewicz. Booked: Leadbitter.
Goals: Emnes 89 pen, McDonald 90.
WOLVERHAMPTON: Ikeme, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Doumbia (Davis 74), Henry, Sigurdarson, Sako, Ebanks-Blake (Pennant 74), Doyle. Subs (not used): De Vries, Stearman, Nouble, Batth, Forde.
Referee: Robert Madley (W Yorks) Attendance: 15,662