Wilder had admitted in the run-up to the game that he had been left scratching his head that Boro's performances to date had not yielded more Sky Bet Championship points, and he was delighted with the fact, rather than the manner, of his side's 1-0 win at the Riverside Stadium on Monday evening. The Boro boss said: "One of the things I quite like and I use to the players - I'm not sure that they really grasp what I'm saying, maybe the intelligent ones in our group, which obviously isn't many, but I say it to the unintelligent ones, which we've got quite a few of - there's no picture on a golf scorecard. "It was a really competitive game, chances at both ends, first half possibly more chances for us; Sunderland, no doubt, dominated the second half.
"The two objectives for us were a clean sheet, and that gives you an opportunity of getting a win. We got that clean sheet. However we did it, we just needed to do it."
The game was settled by Riley McGree's 25th-minute strike, although Boro might have won more comfortably had it not been for Black Cats goalkeeper Anthony Patterson, who denied Rodrigo Muniz and substitute Duncan Watmore twice late on.
Sunderland were left blunted by a thigh injury to Stewart in the warm-up and were rarely able to trouble home keeper Liam Roberts despite enjoying a healthy share of possession.
New head coach Tony Mowbray admitted he had been forced to tear up his game plan after the late reshuffle. Mowbray, who also lost defender Dennis Cirkin to a second-half hamstring injury, said: "It was a tight game. I thought we probably did enough not to lose it, and yet we did. "The fact we lost Ross right at the end of the warm-up, we had to try to re-adjust everything we'd worked on for two or three days in a two-minute chat. "You're asking the lads to almost forget about all the stuff we'd just done for two days and go and play a different game. That's not meant to be an excuse, it's just the reality of it, losing your talisman who's scoring the goals and looking a real threat every game."
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