TWO games in, and it is safe to say that Middlesbrough’s transfer dealing in the final days of the transfer window is already paying off.

The Teessiders had to jump through countless financial and legal hoops to secure the loan signing of Andraz Sporar on deadline day, but the Slovenian ensured their efforts were not wasted as he marked his first start in spectacular fashion with the opening goal in a fully-deserved victory over a wretched Nottingham Forest last night.

Sporar just about burst the net as he lashed home from the edge of the area midway through the first half, and while that was his only opportunity all evening, the emphatic way in which he took it marked him out as an exciting talent. Admittedly, it was only one goal. But the finish was reminiscent of the type of goals Patrick Bamford was scoring under Aitor Karanka in a Boro shirt, which can hardly be a bad thing.

Onel Hernandez’s first Boro goal was rather less dramatic, with the Cuban nipping in to dispossess Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath after he miscontrolled a back-pass before rolling the ball into an empty net. Nevertheless, the fact he is also up and running after moving to Teesside on a season-long loan from Norwich on the final weekend of the window is another huge positive.

There wasn’t much positivity on display at the City Ground, with the home support calling for their manager Chris Hughton’s head with their side languishing at the foot of the table, and any assessment of Boro’s performance has to be posited against the paucity of the opposition.

Even so though, it was imperative the Teessiders got their season up and running with a second win of the campaign, and they did exactly that. Their defence was solid and secure throughout, with another full debutant, James Lea-Siliki, helping to shield his side’s back four as he raced here, there and everywhere at the heart of midfield.

Neil Warnock had taken his time to introduce his new arrivals, but when he asked them to deliver, the Boro boss received the ideal response.

Having resisted the urge to make too many changes at Coventry at the weekend, last night was finally the moment when Warnock shook up his squad to reflect the business that was conducted on deadline-day.

Lea-Siliki and Sporar, the two players to arrive in the final 24 hours before the transfer window swung shut last month, were handed their first Boro starts, with the former partnering Jonny Howson at the heart of midfield and the latter dislodging Uche Ikpeazu as the central striker.

Lea-Siliki was neat and tidy as he covered plenty of ground and snapped willingly into tackles during his 71 minutes on the field, but it was Sporar that made the more powerful first impression as he marked his full Boro debut with a superb goal.

The Slovenian had barely had a touch in the opening quarter of the game, but that changed in an instant as he received Marcus Tavernier’s through ball and lashed home a fantastic finish from the edge of the penalty area. Uche Ikpeazu might offer honest graft and toil, but on the evidence of last night’s explosive debut strike, Sporar is a much more threatening goalscoring proposition.

His goal, which came in the 24th minute, changed the mood at a mutinous City Ground at a stroke. Forest went into the game on the back of their worst start to a season for more than a century, and with their manager, Chris Hughton, facing mounting calls for his dismissal.

There was a nervousness to the home side’s play from the off, particularly when their goalkeeper, Ethan Horvath, had the ball at his feet, but prior to Sporar’s breakthrough, there was also a sense of early adventure which threatened to cause Boro problems.

Philip Zinckernagel fired in a low 25-yard effort that Joe Lumley saved away to his right before teeing up team-mate James Garner for a shot that was dragged wide of the upright.

At that stage, Forest were the marginally the better side, but the game changed completely thanks to Sporar’s moment of magic midway through the first half.

Tavernier’s perfectly-weighted through ball released the Slovenian behind the Forest defence, but he still had plenty to do as he advanced towards the edge of the area.

His first touch took the ball out of his feet, and his second was a sensational strike that saw the ball thunder past Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath and cannon into the back of the net. In terms of introducing yourself to English football, Sporar could hardly have made a more forceful first impression.

It didn’t really matter that he didn’t do a lot for the remainder of the first half, with Boro’s central-midfield axis of Lea-Siliki and Jonny Howson ensuring that Forest were unable to provide any effective service to their front pairing of Lyle Taylor and former Sunderland striker Lewis Grabban.

The hosts’ best opportunity before the interval came in first-half stoppage time, but while Joe Worrall looked well-placed to take advantage of Grabban’s headed knock-down, his shot was blocked by a superb sliding challenge from Matt Crooks.

Crooks was involved at the other end straight at the interval, firing a 20-yard shot straight at Horvath, who was able to make a routine save, but when he broke again five minutes later, galloping down the left-hand side, the summer signing from Rotherham was unable to pick out a team-mate when at least three Boro players had broken into the box.

In truth, that was one of Boro’s few forward forays in the second half, with the visitors largely content to sit back and soak up the pressure rather than commit too many men into the final third.

With only a one-goal lead to defend, that was a somewhat risky tactic, although the return to a four-man defence seemed to help make Boro a more watertight unit. Dael Fry and Grant Hall dealt with Taylor and Grabban with a minimum of fuss, and while Lee Peltier might not be as adventurous as Marc Bola when moved across to left-back, his defensive nous means he is rarely beaten by his opponent on the outside.

What the Teessiders really needed was a second goal to make things safe, and it arrived in comical fashion with 18 minutes left.

Horvath, making his first league start in the Forest goal, had looked a bag of nerves all night, and he erred in calamitous fashion as he miscontrolled a routine back-pass from Loic Mbe Soh.

Hernandez was alert to the possibility of a mistake, and having nipped in to win possession on the corner of the six-yard box, he was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into the empty net. The Cuban’s shirtless celebration in front a packed away end showed just how much his first goal in Boro colours meant to him.

Ikpeazu, introduced as a substitute with ten minutes remaining, almost added a third Boro goal in the dying seconds, but his powerful header was acrobatically saved by Horvath.

Not, however, that it made any difference to the final result, which was never really in doubt all night.