Norwich City got back to winnings ways at Carrow Road, although the one-nil scoreline didn't do them justice as they condemned managerless Middlesbrough to their sixth consecutive away defeat and plunged them into the relegation zone.
Simeon Jackson's fourth goal of his fledgling Canary career, a minute before the break was enough to secure the three points for the home side. Although the visitors created very little in the way of clear cut chances they nearly grabbed an unlikely equaliser in second-half stoppage time, but to the relief of the biggest crowd at Carrow Road this season, Scott MacDonald put wide when it seemed easier to score.
Paul Lambert sprang a surprise in his team selection that even had ex-favourite Darren Huckerby tweeting about it! As expected he reinstated Elliot Ward, after his one-match suspension, back into the centre of defence, with the unfortunate Jens Berthel Askou dropping to the bench.
But on top of that was the appearance of Wes Hoolahan and Korey Smith listed as substitutes on the team sheet, with their places taken by Anthony McNamee and David Fox respectively. This also signaled Lambert's intention to revert from the diamond formation to a more conventional 4-4-2, with Simon Lappin on the left, Andrew Crofts and Fox in midfield and McNamee on the right wing.
City kicked off towards the River End as the rain clouds loomed over Carrow Road. It was a steady start as the City players took some time to adjust to their new formation in match conditions, with both sides earning early corners without threatening.
In the ninth minute McNamee's flag-kick found Ward, but he could only put his shot over the bar.
By the 20th minute Russell Martin and McNamee were working well together down the right handside. City's right-back chased a long ball down the right and cleverly waited for the defender to slip in the wet conditions before cutting the ball back to Johnson. Unfortunately, with just the Boro' keeper to beat, the striker sliced his shot over the bar.
The Canaries then carved out an even better opportunity, with Martin and McNamee again instrumental. Although McNamee's corner was initially cleared, Martin headed it back to the right-winger who returned the ball back into the area. Crofts then produced a shot that beat the keeper, but bounced back off the far post and amazingly into his arms as he still lay on the ground.
In a rare Boro' attack of any intent, Leroy Lita who spent a spell on loan at Carrow Road, managed to turn Ward, before cutting the ball back along the 6-yard line. It took the defence and even Lita's striking partner Kris Boyd by surprise, who couldn't react quick enough to turn the ball into an unguarded net.
Caretaker boss Steve Agnew was forced to make a change before the break with Kevin Thomson struggling with an injury, replacing him with Richard Smallwood.
Things went from bad to worse for Boro', as the home side deservedly took the lead just a minute before half-time. McNamee justified his starting place when he produced the perfect cross for Grant Holt at the far post, who knocked the ball down for Jackson who had the simplest of jobs of tapping the ball into an empty net.
HALF-TIME: City 1 Boro 0
The second half began with neither side making any change, although unlike Tuesday evening when having scored at a near identical time before the break against Crystal Palace, City didn't fall apart against another side at the wrong end of the Championship.
It was the Canaries that continued to create the more clear cut chances, although the threat was coming more down the left this half with Steven Smith and Lappin combining to great effect.
After 60 minutes the boro stand-in manager, withdrew the disappointing Scottish striker Boyd, bringing on Scott MacDonald.
In the 68th minute referee James Linington showed the games first yellow card to Boro's Stephen McManus, after a clumsy tackle on Jackson.
That was to be the City striker's last involvement in the game, as Lambert made his first substitution, introducing the fresh legs of Chris Martin.
Tony McMahon then received a caution for a trip on Lappin as he was making inroads down the left again. Fox took the free-kick which was a little too close to the keeper and Steele gratefully claimed the ball.
Wheater hauled down Holt in the 72nd minute as the City striker was attempting to hold the ball up just outside the 'D'. Although Fox initially picked the ball up, Chris Martin claimed it but disappointingly fired the free-kick straight at the wall.
The visitors made their last change of the afternoon in the 74th minute when Joe Bennett replaced McMahon. The substitute made an immediate impact winning a corner, after McNamee cleared his cross. Gary O'Neil took it but Lappin cleared the ball up field.
As the half had continued, the visitors were having more of the ball and the City boss took action when in the 80th minute he introduced the more defensive Korey Smith in place of McNamee, who left to a deserved standing ovation.
This did give City a more solid look, but with nothing to lose the opposition were looking to get the ball into the City area at every opportunity. Bailey, O'Neil and Bennett in particular all attempted to put in dangerous crosses but the City defence dealt with them all.
The only one to prise open the home defence came from Bailey, who found MacDonald at the far post and every City fan had their hearts in their mouths fearing he was about to score. Fortunately for them, he put his shot wide of Ruddy's left hand upright, which meant he had kept his sixth clean sheet of the season.
FULL-TIME: City 1 Boro 0