MIDDLESBROUGH fans turned up excited to see a new-look forward line and returned home appreciating two men they are already familiar with for delivering a first victory under Garry Monk.

Rudy Gestede only scored once after his £6m move from Aston Villa in January but he is already off the mark in the Championship this year, after heading the first half winner against Sheffield United.

And it was Patrick Bamford, who also moved last January and hardly played in the Premier League, who played the pass that created the goal which delighted Monk, the players and fans at the Riverside.

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Both forwards were included in the starting line-up because £9m man Martin Braithwaite suffered a niggle in training and £6.5m man Ashley Fletcher was only named on the bench.

That meant summer buy Britt Assombalonga was the only new face in Monk’s attacking triumvirate and, after a few moments in the second half when the Blades threatened an equaliser, that combination proved enough to get the points.

It could have been a blow to Middlesbrough that Braithwaite was missing, as well as defender Daniel Ayala, because of the problems suffered in training, but it didn’t turn out that way.

Sheffield United might have started brightly, with Leon Clarke guilty of wasting an early chance when he was in space in the box, but Middlesbrough grew in confidence as the first half wore on and deserved to be ahead.

Gestede and Bamford, both bits of business from the January window, excelled and clearly wanted to prove a point after combining for the opener in the 20th minute.

Bamford’s flick over the defence was not dealt with comfortably enough by Chris Basham and Gestede leaped highest to loop a header of his own over goalkeeper Jamal Blackman and into the net.

Middlesbrough, who saw young defender Dael Fry perform solidly at the back and Adam Forshaw impress as Marten de Roon’s replacement, then should have extended their lead before the break.

Gestede saw a header from an excellent Cyrus Christie cross shave the upright and Bamford curled an effort inches wide from distance, and the Blades could not have complained had either gone in.

Sheffield United improved after the restart and would have been level had Darren Randolph not got down quickly to turn behind a distance drive from Paul Coutts just after the hour.

Shortly after that Lewis Baker, signed from Chelsea on a two-year loan, was introduced and Gestede went off to huge applause from a crowd appreciative of his efforts in the final third.

Sheffield United dominated the closing stages in a bid to level and they thought they had. Referee Peter Bankes ruled out a Dael Fry header into his own net though because Chris Basham, who didn’t try to head the ball, was deemed to be offside when Mark Duffy floated over a free-kick.

There were some unsavoury scenes in the South Stand as fans from both sections tried to get to one another as frustrations boiled over, but the final whistle blew and Middlesbrough held on for the win.

MIDDLESBROUGH: Randolph; Christie, Fry, Gibson, Friend; Clayton; Howson, Forshaw (Leadbitter 84); Bamford, Gestede (Baker 68), Assombalonga (Fletcher 79). Subs: Konstantopoulos (gk), Fabio, Roberts, Traore.

SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blackman; Basham, O’Connell, Stearman, Stevens; Freeman (Brooks 79), Fleck, Carruthers (Duffy 57), Coutts; Clarke, Sharpe (Evans 68). Subs: Eastwood (gk), Lundstram, Wright, Lafferty.