Middlesbrough U23 v Newcastle United U23, Friday April 1st 2022, 7pm

I’ve seen a couple of Boro U23 games this season, but they were primarily to tick off new grounds and I hadn’t really thought of going along to the Riverside to watch them. However, I’d been down there earlier in the day to renew the season cards and, on a whim, asked if the car parks were open. They were, at a cost of two quid. That made for an easy evening out, where I could leave the house at half past six, park up and watch a game that’s included in the season card package.

The lower tier of the West Stand was open and I picked a seat in the back row. Those ones are usually used by the occupants of the executive boxes so it had a small amount of padding on it. I think that if I was paying a couple of hundred quid a game for my seat I’d want some sort of Jim’ll Fix It style armchair.

The attendance wasn’t announced but I’d estimate that there were a few hundred there including a handful with Newcastle colours on. A bit of chanting broke out late on with one Geordie having both his BMI and parentage questioned. He took it in good humour and flashed a tattoo of his club’s initials around his belly button displaying a well-earned beer gut that wasn’t far off needing a wheelbarrow to move it around.

It was an entertaining game. Boro bossed the first half and genuinely could have gone in at the break six or seven up but for some poor finishing that limited the score at that time to two-nil. Newcastle came back into it in the second half and we finished with a four-two home win.

Joe Gibson was the stand-out performer, driving forward from midfield and creating a lot of our chances. I kept a close eye on Nathan Wood and thought he did well. He played on the right of a back three and if he wants to displace Anfernee Dijksteel from the first team, he still has some improvement to make in his attacking play. Sol Brynn looked solid in goal, it’s a shame that he had his Scottish loan cut short as I think he’d have gained better experience at that level.

The car park emptied quickly, and I was home fifteen minutes after the final whistle. Perfect.

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