FOR Middlesbrough, all that mattered was the result today. After an hour of comfortable football for the hosts, Swansea clawed their back into the game. Boro were in cruise control for the majority of the game and they ended up having to survive a late onslaught but those involved will only care about the feeling of earning three points for the first time this season as Boro earned themselves a win over ten man Swansea City.

A poignant moment was observed before the game as all those in the Riverside Stadium paid tribute to Boro legend David Armstrong who sadly passed away at the age of 67 earlier in the week. Armstrong inspired performance is exactly what Boro needed this afternoon.

The opening procedures of the game were muted. Both sides enjoyed spells of possession but with very little meaning. It was almost like a physical game of chess with both sides waiting to see who would blink first. It was Boro who made them pay when they found the slightest chink in the armour.

Cameron Congreave’s loose pass feel it’s way to Matt Crooks close to the centre circle. The tall midfielder had the vision to feed the run of Riley McGree who was charging into the attacking third. One touch from the Australian was followed up with a calm finish into the bottom left corner leaving Andy Fisher completely rooted. In the blink of an eye, Boro surged into the lead.

From there, they took a position of authority in the game and they wouldn’t have to wait much longer for a second.

Debutant Matt Clarke played a crucial role in the build up on the left hand side. Ryan Giles played a lovely one-two with the centre-half and hooked the ball back across the box at the byline. Crooks slide across his marker Ben Cabango and stretched every fibre in his body to prod the ball into the net. A very well worked move that would have put a smile on the face of the manager.

It was a managed performance in the first half from the home side. Chances were few and far between but Boro have control of proceedings. Joel Piroe provided a late scare but had to do so from distance as he let rip from 30 yards. Liam Roberts, who was in for the injured Zack Steffen, dived across but saw the ball whizz just inches passed the post.

Into the second half and the industrious Duncan Watmore had ran his last race of the afternoon when he was hauled to the floor. Wilder made the decision to withdraw Watmore who was clutching his arm. Rodrigo Muniz, a man who has been chased by the club for over a year, finally donned a Boro shirt and was thrown into the action just before the hour mark and came so close to producing a blistering start to his loan spell.

With his first touch of the ball, Muniz latched onto a Crooks cross with a first time volley that cannoned off the post and out. They don’t come much closer than that.

Russel Martin’s side continued to struggle to get into the game. There was a fair amount of style but not a lot of substance. Liam Cullen’s looping header forced Liam Roberts into a smart save on his line.

After little action to speak of, the final 20 minutes plus stoppage time was nothing short of frantic.

Out of nowhere from a Swansea corner, referee Bobby Madley pointed to the penalty spot for a handball by Darragh Lenihan. Piroe stepped up on spotkick duties and sent Roberts the way slotting the ball into the left hand corner.

From a position of complete comfort, the Riverside crowd started getting restless as Marc Bola and Tommy Smith were thrown into the action to shore things up for Boro. However, fortunes would swing back into Boro’s favour.

Isaiah Jones was juggling the ball after a free-kick was given and Ben Cabango took exception and shoved the wing-back to the floor. A mass melee ensued and Bobby Madley had no alternative other than to give Cabango his second yellow and an early exit from the game.

After eight minutes of stoppage time, Boro held out a late Swansea bid to get a point as they tasted victory for the first time in the league this season. They don’t make it easy for themselves.