Middlesbrough v Luton, Saturday 5th March 2022, 3pm

Whilst we are going well in the Cup, we’ve faltered a little in the League lately with away defeats at Bristol and Barnsley contributing to a slip to eighth place. There’d been a good result for us in the Friday night game though with the draw between Sheff Utd and Forest resulting in both of the teams dropping two points.

I’d seen some of that game in the Malleable Club in what was my first visit since attending their Christmas parties as a child. Paul and I had called in on the way to see Altered Images at the Georgian. I’d read mixed reviews of their recent performances, but they did well. It seemed like an enjoyable night for both the band and the capacity crowd.

That draw meant that a win against Luton would allow us to leapfrog both them and Sheff Utd and move back up into sixth place. It’s ridiculously tight at the top of the Championship and whilst Fulham are probably far enough ahead to ensure automatic promotion the other spot could still go to any of the teams in the top eight, maybe even top ten. The play-offs are even wider open with clubs currently below half-way in the table still in with a shout.

Wilder had made two changes from the line-up that faced Spurs, switching out the strikers to allow Connolly and Balogun to start. The high-pressing game that we play makes big demands on the front-men and it makes sense to share the workload.

Luton looked a better side than us when we played them at Kenilworth Road back in October. We’ve improved considerably since those Warnock days though and, providing the Spurs game hadn’t taken too much of a toll, I was reasonably confident that we could take the points. Harry had no doubts. His logic being that if we could see off Tottenham then Luton should pose no problem at all. I was like that at his age.

Harry’s confidence wasn’t misplaced. Luton played a niggly game, trying to break up our rhythm at every opportunity. It’s exactly what we would have tried to have done under the previous manager. Once we’d got the first goal though it was always going to be difficult for them to get back into it and Watmore’s late clincher sealed the win despite an even later away consolation. The win was our ninth home league win in a row. That’s promotion form.

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