Former Boro striker Jordan Hugill returned to Teesside to ensure Neil Warnock’s Riverside debut ended in defeat.

Hugill scored the only goal of a dour game shortly after the half-hour to inflict a result that leaves Boro in the Championship relegation places, a point away from safety with five games to go.

Having lost at Hull just three days before, Warnock shuffled his pack as he looked to freshen things up, but after a decent opening to the game, Boro were unable to muster enough of a threat to claw their way back into the contest once QPR had scored.

Early on, QPR goalkeeper Joe Lumley was at full stretch to parry a Britt Assombalonga strike, and moments later he did well again to deny Ashley Fletcher from a tight angle after more good play from Boro.

But the visitors were looking a threat on the break and after Eber Ezra fluffed one early chance, the visitors had a great opportunity when Jonny Howson was dispossessed and Hugill found himself free to bear down on goal. The one-time Boro marksman was unable to apply the finishing touch though after good work by George Friend and Dejan Stojanovic.

Hugill made amends moments later, however, when he latched on to a long ball over the top and delivered a quality finish to leave Stojanovic with no chance. That was to prove the decisive moment in the game, and was Hugill’s final contribution before he limped off injured.

It wasn’t until shortly after the hour that Boro troubled QPR again; Ravel Morrison sending a shot over the bar after Fletcher did enough to prevent Lumley from collecting a cross from deep.

With 25 minutes left on the clock, Warnock made a triple change, introducing Lewis Wing, Lukas Nmecha, and Paddy McNair in place of Morrison, Fletcher, and George Saville.

Assombalonga had a shot blocked after a surging run from Patrick Roberts, and Nmecha sent an effort just over the top after a great ball from Jonny Howson, but for all the huff and puff, Boro were unable to produce the quality required to take anything from the game.