A SATISFIED Neil Warnock was delighted to his Middlesbrough players put the effects of the club’s recent Covid outbreak behind them as they reignited their promotion push with a deserved 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

The Teessiders did not look themselves as they limped to a 1-0 home defeat to Birmingham City at the weekend, a game that marked their first outing since Rockliffe Park was reopened after a series of positive coronavirus tests.

A number of other clubs have taken weeks to shake off the after-effects of such a major outbreak, but last night’s dominant display at the City Ground suggests Boro have quickly got themselves back on track.

Goals from Britt Assombalonga and George Saville were no more than Boro deserved as they produced an accomplished all-round display, and while Forest substitute Loic Mbe Soh netted in stoppage time, the visitors held on to move back to within one place of the play-off places.

“You could see we were at it from the first minute tonight,” said Warnock. “I turned to the bench after about two minutes and said, ‘We’ll be alright tonight’. Saturday, we were so sloppy to start with. You can blame Covid and the fact we hadn’t trained properly for two weeks, but tonight I thought we were right at it.

“We played some good stuff. The only disappointment was not scoring more goals, but we had chances and were unlucky on a few occasions. Apart from the goal, I can’t think of a shot that Marcus (Bettinelli) had to save, so we did well.

“It was professional. We were playing against a good, in-form team, so I thought all credit to them. Even the staff were saying we deserved it thoroughly.

“I didn’t think we took our foot off the pedal, we were on it all the time. It’s lovely to see that when you’re a manager. It was difficult conditions, but I thought we adapted and wanted it. The three in midfield, I thought Jonny Howson was unbelievable. I’d give him 11 out of ten.”

In hindsight, Warnock admits he got last weekend’s team selection wrong, selecting too many players that were only just returning from a Covid-enforced lay-off.

Last night’s display contained more energy and enterprise, attributes that will be required in the second half of the season as the promotion battle heats up.

Boro’s next two matches pit them against Blackburn Rovers and Rotherham United at the Riverside, and while Warnock will be taking nothing for granted, he will be urging his players to string together the kind of lengthy unbeaten run that could thrust them into the heart of the top six.

“It’s a good start,” he said. “We’ve got two home games now and people will say, ‘Oh, that’s easy’, but it won’t be. We might get two draws and I’d be quite happy with that. As long as we stay unbeaten now. I’m looking forward to the Norwich game (at the end of the month), me. I’m really looking forward to that.”