Middlesbrough v Nottingham Forest, Sunday 26th December 2021, 3pm

With my grandson Harry having enjoyed our visit to the Riverside last month, despite us throwing away the points against Preston, I decided that we’d have to go more often. Initially I thought that once every few weeks would do, but then realized that at forty-seven pounds a time for the two of us it would be far cheaper to buy season tickets.

With eleven games left this campaign we would only need to go to six of them to make it cheaper than paying match by match and so I sorted us with cards for the family section in the East Stand.

As we made our way around the ground there were long queues at each ticket office and turnstile. Some of them will have had more than a hundred people lining up. We were lucky in that there were very few people waiting at the East Stand and after showing my Covid pass we were inside.

A quick drink each and we were up to our seats, ten rows back and looking out at the penalty spot at the North Stand end. We got a decent view of a fantastic first-half Boro performance in which we could have gone in five-up after dominating play and possession. There was just the one goal to show for it, a comedy own goal from a Forest defender who hit a blind back pass beyond his own keeper.

The concourse was packed at half-time and we queued for the full duration for a coffee and coke. Next time I’ll try a different set of steps and see if I can join a line a little sooner.

It was disappointing to see so few of our fans wearing masks inside. I wonder how many of them feel that when the rules aren’t observed by the those who set them then there’s no reason why anyone else should bother.

Forest re-grouped for the second-half and initially looked to be making a game of it, but Boro picked up the pace and added a second through Sporar. Despite Forest hitting a post late on the result never looked in doubt and it’s probably the best performance I’ve seen from us for a few years.

Wilder has made a big impact already and at the risk of getting carried away I think top six is nailed on.

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