THE story of Chris Wilder’s first game in charge of Middlesbrough didn’t quite stick to the script but there was a lot to be encouraged by in their performance at the Riverside.

While there wasn’t sweeping wholesale changes from Wilder, there wasn’t certainly a change in tempo and attacking intent as his Boro side looked dangerous and energetic. At least until the second half where Millwall ran the clock down and Boro just ran out of steam in the later stages.

Boro usually isn’t a soap opera club but their new leading character set his team up to take the game to Millwall from the off. In the build up to the game, he’d spoken at length about how he wants to turn Boro’s home ground into a cauldron and that he wants everyone connected with the opposition to be uncomfortable. While it will take time for that to be implemented, there was no time for the Lions to put their feet up with Boro nearly taking the lead on 12 seconds when Duncan Watmore was released through. It was like the moment you sit on a rollercoaster and you’re waiting for that moment when you are thrust into the air.

That can be seen as an indicator of the complete Chris Wilder side. Watmore and Andraz Sporar saw plenty of the ball and got the chance to run beyond the defenders whilst helping build the attack when Millwall got numbers behind the ball. Boro were potent and threatening in the first 15 minutes of the game which was something we’d only seen in glimpses throughout the season.

Wilder recognises that Sporar is a quality player at Championship level and playing to his strengths, releasing him in behind defenders and finding the ball in the attacking third, is going to be a fruitful exercise for Boro.

The 3-5-2 worked to really great effect in the opening stages with the two central midfielders given the chance to roam forward while Jonny Howson swept things up.

They pinned Millwall back with runs in behind and shots from distance and their resolve was broken when Watmore jinked his way into the box before his deflected cross fell kindly to Matt Crooks.

Wilder has also keen to utilise the best out of central midfielders that have a license to roam forward into dangerous area. Crooks and Marcus Tavernier fit that mould perfectly and the pair had one of their better games in a Boro shirt for a while.

In all honesty, the defence managed to do it’s job really well for vast portions of the game and Millwall’s equaliser had an air of good fortune given the way the ball bounced off Sol Bamba’s shins and the controversy’s surrounding the build up to the goal.

It will be interesting to see what Wilder will do when the likes of Anfernee Dijksteel, Grant Hall and Dael Fry return from injury. Dijksteel is no stranger to playing at right centre-back and will be comfortable going forward while you’d expect Fry to be the central defender out of the three.

It took until the second half to see Wilder’s trademark overlapping centre backs which allowed Boro back into the game and gave them some rhythm to their play. Lee Peltier and Paddy McNair were the men who carried out that duty and did so effectively. It’s a mould that fits the pair well due to their versatility and their ability to play a number of positions on the pitch. That will also be a source of encouragement for the new Boro boss.

Wilder is big on work ethic and he spoke about the players perhaps feeling comfortable under the previous regime. They will be worked to the bone and fitness, hopefully, might not be an issue for these players in the weeks to come. You could see the new system meant they ran out of steam in the closing stages.

But there were moments where it clicked for Boro and they certainly excited the crowd. It might not be the result they wanted but the performance represents a good start.