IT'S been a mixed week for Boro as a point at Manchester City was followed up by the first home win of the season, albeit at the expense of Third Division Macclesfield in the Worthington Cup.

Neither display was particularly convincing but Noel Whelan, who grabbed the equaliser against Macclesfield, is confident Boro are moving in the right direction.

"Lets give credit to Macclesfield, who came to the Riverside and were well organised and on a bad night in front of a low crowd we managed to get a lead to take to Moss Road next week. In the Premiership we aren't firing on all cylinders yet but when we get the injured players back I feel that we have a squad capable of doing very well."

The manager gave debuts in midweek to youngsters Chris Bennion and Stuart Parnaby.

"I thought they did really well and it is credit to the youth policy at the club that youngsters are starting to challenge for first team places. Stuart played for the youth team last season so it was a big step for him but part of the learning process."

Aston Villa arrive at the Riverside on Saturday and Bryan Robson knows the importance of the game.

"We need to start winning league games at home and Villa represent a chance for us to start. The Worthington Cup is very important to the club and we will give Macclesfield every respect next Tuesday but we need to start moving up the league table and that's what I will be stressing to the players.