Eoin Doyle felt that Preston North End pushed Middlesbrough all the way at the Riverside Stadium and were unlucky not to take at least a point from the clash.
PNE were the stronger side in the second half and at times the Boro goal lived a charmed life as the visitors pushed for an equaliser.
Doyle, making his first start since January, had a shot cleared off the line during a goalmouth scramble.
Then right-back Marnick Vermijl stung the gloves of Dimi Konstantopoulos with a powerful shot.
There were also close calls for Paul Huntington and Joe Garner.
Albert Adomah’s goal in the 32nd minute settled the game in the hosts’ favour.
It came during their best spell of the contest, with Boro getting on top after a decent opening from North End.
Doyle said: “You could say we deserved to get more than nothing, we fought hard all of the game.
“There was a patch after their goal when we struggled but apart from that, I thought we did well.
“We kept the pressure on, we had a game plan and we stuck to it.
“It was an accident for their goal, Bailey Wright slipped in the middle and unfortunately their lad scored.
“We had a go right until the end, kept putting pressure on and never once accepted we were going to lose.
“It was against a team who are more than likely going to be in the Premier League next season.
“Yet we gave them such a hard time and might easily have got something.
“The gaffer remarked to us that they celebrated the win like it was the biggest one all season – I suppose you could say that was testament to our performance.”
Doyle got a start up front in place of the injured Jordan Hugill.
He was last in the starting XI against Brentford at the end of January, and has had to be content with a seat on the bench since.
Last month, the Irishman scored in successive games as a substitute and he was not far off adding to that pair against Middlesbrough.
Said Doyle: “I had that shot kicked off the line when we were putting pressure on in the second half.
“There was a scramble and the ball wouldn’t fall for me properly, it was between my feet.
“I managed to toe poke it towards the goal, enough to go past the keeper but their defender did well on the line.
“We went close too with the shot from Marnick, it was a brilliant save from the keeper.
“Marnick has got one of the hardest shots I have ever seen and when he gets into the right position, you know that he will have a chance of scoring.
“We were disappointed to lose but the performance was a good one.
“There were spells when we knew we would have to ride the storm and that happened after they scored.
“At half-time we pulled ourselves together and we went out all guns blazing for the second half.
“We were by far the better team in the second half.
“Next week we are back at home and we will get ready for that one.
“We want to finish as high up the table as we possibly can, we want to cement that top 10 position.
“From a personal point of view, it was nice to start the game and get 90 minutes.
“It has been quite a long time since the last one.”