WHILE Middlesbrough continue to graft behind the scenes as transfer breakthroughs near, their summer acquisitions showed their worth on the opening day of the season with Ryan Giles, Zack Steffen and Darragh Lenihan all on show at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro are currently operating with a thin squad with several new signings getting close but while there is currently an absence of depth, there is a plenty of quality in their eleven with Giles the pick of the bunch against West Brom. 

He earned the man of the match award for eyecatching runs and teasing deliveries into the box and was the architect for the first goal in the game driving into the West Brom defensive third before threading through to Chuba Akpom. The striker showed the awareness to hook the ball across goal and find the unmarked Isaiah Jones who slammed home. Giles should have had an assist of his own only to see Duncan Watmore spurn the chance wide from his low cross in the first half.

Giles has come to the club on a season long loan from Premier League Wolves with a solid reputation at Championship level after spells with Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers where his numbers for assists speaks for itself. With teams singling out Isaiah Jones threat on the right hand side towards the end of last season, Giles is the man with the responsibility of alleviating the pressure on the left.

Manager Chris Wilder acknowledged the reasons for bringing him to the club this summer but lauded his performance as he said: “He was really good. I think we’ve talked at length about positions we needed to fill and one of those was making sure we weren’t as lopsided as last season with Isaiah. So Ryan gives us an outlet on the left.

"The goalkeeping department needed to be tightened up and I believe we’ve added real quality in that area. Obviously where things lie, there are still a couple of positions in midfield and up top as well that still need work. But Ryan was excellent.

"He’s a young boy and still needs to work on the other side of the game, but we’re an attacking team and we feel with the two exciting boys we can create. Jones getting the goal was great for him as well."

While Giles was a strong point of Boro's attack, they had Steffen to thank in between the sticks helping Boro withstand a period of sustained pressure from West Brom in the opening stages of the second half.

The American, who is on loan from Manchester City for the season, kept out several Baggies efforts to keep the score level at the Riverside Stadium and deny Steve Bruce's side an opening day. "He’s made some big saves and that is what he is here to do" continue Wilder.

With Boro looking to earn vital points to sperhead their promotion push, Steffen's saves are a sign that he could help them on their way as he added: "You look at the goalkeepers last year that we coveted and got out of the division, they made big saves. Goalkeeper at Fulham, Travers, Huddersfield’s keeper made big saves so we’ve got that.

"Loads to work on. It became far too open and it was a game of basketball for 15-20 minutes so we have to remain composed, get passes in and get a foothold in the game which I believe we did. But for that 10-15 minutes, they were massively in top and Zack made the saves that we would expect him to make."

The 27-year-old has publicly stated his desire for game time and sees his chance with Boro to earn promotion to the Premier League whilst boosting his chances of earning himself a spot in the USA squad for the winter World Cup in Qater. 

Elsewhere, Marcus Forss was brought into the game in the second half having completed his switch to Teesside earlier this week. After the game, Wilder was quick to alleviate any pressure on the Finnish frontman with the 23-year-old currently being one of just a few options in the forward areas at the club.

The Boro boss said: “Marcus (Forss) has just come into the building and we’ve got a 19-year-old kid coming on at the top end of a Championship game. We all know the situation. There is no angst or cleverness regarding it. We’re club that is together from the top right the way down to the supporters."

Fellow new signings Tommy Smith and Liam Roberts were both unused substitutes in the game at the Riverside Stadium.