Middlesbrough 0 Blackburn 1
By Andy Clarke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The 20-year-old striker, signed from Third Division Huddersfield on transfer deadline day, found the net three minutes before half time, converting the first chance to fall the visitors' way.
Danny Mills robbed Paul Gallagher down the Rovers left, but succeeded only in pushing the ball across the penalty area to Stead, who stroked a low, right-foot shot beyond Mark Schwarzer.
Moments later he could have added a second - and 20th of the season - but after shifting the ball onto his left foot in the penalty area he could only prod a tame shot wide of the goal.
It was a bold move by Souness to pair two young strikers at the expense of Andy Cole, who was dropped to the bench, and Dwight Yorke - left out of the 16 altogether - but it paid off, and Stead had already shown some neat touches before his goal.
Blackburn were fortunate to meet Middlesbrough on such a bad day for Steve McClaren's side, as they showed none of the vigour and verve that characterised their Carling Cup semi-final victory over Arsenal in midweek.
Gaizka Mendieta set the tone for a dismal display in front of goal for the home side after only three minutes, racing clear of the Rovers defence before firing a right-foot shot wide of Brad Friedel's left-hand post.
The Spaniard tried his luck again after a turgid half hour, striking a left-footed drive cleanly, although Friedel was able to watch the ball safely wide.
Two minutes later Juninho's quick thinking presented Mendieta with another opportunity, but although his shot was on target it lacked menace and Friedel saved easily.
Stead then showed the way to goal as Blackburn counter-attacked, before more wastefulness followed from the home side after the break.
Joseph-Desire Job, on for the ineffective Massimo Maccarone, saw a shot deflected straight to Friedel from 10 yards, and then did well to tee up Juninho, only for the little Brazilian to send his half-volley from inside the penalty area spinning over the bar.
Mendieta - once again - was off target with a free kick and he then played in Juninho, who inexplicably shot straight at Friedel when clean through.
Friedel came to the rescue again, keeping out Gareth Southgate's close range effort, before palming away Boudewijn Zenden's 30-yard strike, and when Chris Riggott headed wide in stoppage time Boro's chance of salvaging a point was gone.