Goals:

1-0: Ayala (33, lost his marker in the area and headed home Leadbitter’s corner from the edge of the six-yard box)

2-0: Kike (66, hooked home the rebound after Tomlin’s initial shot had been blocked in the penalty area)

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Bookings: Eardley (55, foul), Ayala (62, foul)

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Preston) – Kept his interventions to a minimum and wasn’t in a hurry to reach for his cards, which was commendable 6

Attendance: 18,371

Entertainment: 4/5

 

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1):

Mejias: Only had one routine save to make all afternoon, but commanded his area well and dealt with crosses effectively 7

Hines: Doesn’t look like a natural right-back, but held things together defensively even if he struggled to get forward 6

Ayala: Had a fairly easy day at the back and made no mistake with his header as the penalty box parted for him before the break 7

Gibson: The season couldn’t really have got off to a worse start as he damaged his hamstring within the opening 15 seconds 5

Friend: As energetic and committed as ever, with his barnstorming runs down the left creating a number of chances 7

Leadbitter: Neat, tidy and composed at the base of midfield, with his passes generally finding their intended target 7

Whitehead: Started sloppily in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, but improved from thereon in and looked good in the second half 6

Adomah: Had one of his quieter afternoons, but might well have scored had Randolph not been so quick from his line 6

Tomlin:  Ran the game from his attacking midfield position and already looks to have struck up a successful partnership with Kike 8

Reach: Made the starting line-up on the back of some strong pre-season displays, and justified his place with a bright performance 7

KIKE: Capped his dream debut with a crisply-taken goal and looks to have an all-round attacking game without any glaring weaknesses 9

Subs:

Omeruo (for Gibson, 4): Wouldn’t have been expecting his early introduction, but slotted in seamlessly to remind everyone just how good he is 8

Nsue (for Adomah, 67): Looks to have a fair bit of pace and came close with a late shot that was well saved 6

L Williams (for Tomlin, 87)

(not used): Konstantopoulos (gk), Husband, Fewster, Smallwood.

 

BIRMINGHAM (4-2-3-1):

RANDOLPH 7; Eardley 5, Hall 4, Robinson 5, Grounds 5; Edgar 4, Gleeson 4; Gray 6, Shinnie 3 (Duffy 55, 5), Novak 4; Thomas 5 (Donaldson 67, 4).

Subs (not used): Doyle (gk), Gunning, Cotterill, Brown, Caddis.

 

Man Of The Match: KIKE – IT might only be one game, but Boro’s new Spanish striker is already well on the way to becoming a crowd favourite.