Middlesbrough v Chelsea, Saturday 19th March 2022, 5.15pm

I suppose the Boro’s cup run was always likely to come to an end against Chelsea. They are a step above the two Premier League sides that we’d put out in earlier rounds and if we were to have progressed then we would have needed to be at the top of our game and for Chelsea to have an off-day.

We played ok, but the gulf in class on the pitch was just too much and at two down in the first half hour I feared the worst. We didn’t crumble though and whilst they might have taken their foot off the pedal, we just needed a bit of luck to bring us back into the game. Even up until the final few moments I kept thinking that if we could just nick one…

Harry and I were in the front row of the West Stand Upper again. The atmosphere wasn’t as good as against Spurs, but early goals conceded tend to have that effect. The crowd picked up in the second half though and if we had scored it would have lifted the roof off. I though Tav was immense. If there are any haters still around then that performance should surely shut them up for good. Or at least until there’s a misplaced pass.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about the cup run is that we took it seriously. There was a strong side against Mansfield and then we were at full-strength for the three ties against Premier League opposition. That’s how it should be, so it’s another well-done to Chris Wilder.

Boro bowing out ended my personal cup run too. I’d started off in August at Ryhope in the Extra Preliminary Round and took in a match in each subsequent stage, ticking off eight new grounds. The Boro got involved after that and I was able to follow them to Mansfield and Man United before the home ties with Spurs and Chelsea. Twelve rounds in all. The only way that I could have continued the streak to Wembley would have been if we’d got there. And I suppose that’s how it should be as I wouldn’t really want to take the seat of a fan of the competing clubs at that stage. It won’t be long until August though and it will all start again.

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