The boss, who lost both striker James Vaughan and former Boro midfielder Jonathan Hogg to injury during the game, was pleased by his side’s response to Lee Tomlin’s 60th-minute opener.
And he said Tomlin’s second goal in stoppage time, rolled into an unguarded net after keeper Alex Smithies went upfield for a corner, meant the final score failed to reflect the game.
“It was the sort of away performance I have been looking for. After they scored, we really took the game to them. Our response was excellent,” he said.
“We hit a post, had a penalty appeal turned down, brought good saves from their keeper and had one cleared off the line.
“The result was tough to take against a side with ambitions to go up. But it’s good to know we can play like this against the top teams in this league.”
Powell hailed the performance of top scorer Nahki Wells, who lost frontline partner Vaughan midway through the first half after he suffered a facial injury.
“We pushed Jacob Butterfield up to support Nahki, and the pair of them dovetailed well to keep us in the game,” he added.
“I thought Nahki was excellent. He is in a confident place at the moment and he could well have scored in several occasions. He is a danger and he will will get goals.”
Powell, who felt Town should have had a second-half penalty for handball by Daniel Ayala, said his plan was to stifle Middlesbrough but also to produce attacking football on the counter.
“I am upset with result but I have to be pleased with performance and the character shown by my players,” he continued. “They worked hard to frustrate Middlesbrough, but also to keep our discipline and shape.
“We pushed very hard for an equaliser, and the second was down to pushing Alex up for the corner, which was with my blessing, because we wanted to get something.”