AFTER securing back-to-back home wins for the first time this season and sustaining a drive to stay in the Championship's promotion race, Middlesbrough should expect a boost to attendance levels this afternoon.

Tony Mowbray, the Middlesbrough boss, is not holding his breath.

It is not that the Boro manager is thinking negatively of those that follow the club, just a realisation and acceptance that it could be the back end of the season before thousands of disaffected fans return to the Riverside.

Less than 15,000 - less than half of the stadium's 35,000 capacity - turned up to witness a 1-0 victory over Watford in their last outing.

And while fireworks displays on Bonfire Night and live coverage on Sky television could be used as viable excuses for the low turn-out, it is also worth noting that they are yet to hit the 18,000 mark since the opening day draw with Portsmouth in August.

With Middlesbrough sitting third in the division after a run, helped by a run of 16 matches without defeat on home soil carrying over from last season, Mowbray and his playing staff are doing their part.

"The goal for me is to walk out to the dug-out and see that (East) Stand opposite full," said Mowbray. "The only reason that will happen is if we are successful.

"The stadium is half full at the moment. Does it stir the sinews in the players? Does it bring their adrenaline levels to their peak? Probably not.

"It's my job to make sure the lack of intensity in the stadium does not become an issue. The job as a manager is easier when stadiums are full because every time there is a successful tackle or a shot, there is a huge lift. If the ref gives a bad decision, the fans get behind you.

"It makes the job easier if it is full because the fans do part of your job for you. That's why I spend a lot of time on the touchline now.

"I normally like to sit back because I like to think the players are out there prepared and know their jobs and that the fans can help them along. When stadiums aren't full, that's not as easy."

On the back of much-publicised cheap season ticket initiatives for the Premier League at Newcastle and Sunderland in recent weeks, it has been suggested that a significantly reduced part-season ticket should be introduced at the Riverside. There are, however, regular offers for Boro Pride members.

For an adult to buy a regular ticket for this afternoon's visit of Blackpool in the East Stand it is £27 and Under-18s can head along for £14, while it is £25 to watch a Hartlepool United match in League One seated for fans that did not take advantage of the fantastic £100 season ticket offer.

Mowbray does not have a problem with his club's pricing policy. He said: "If the chairman (Steve Gibson) was sitting here, per capital per head, I would suggest he would say we are one of the cheapest in the division to what it costs to run our stadium, run the club.

"He would say it is pretty cheap to watch the Boro. When do you give seats away? We have to cater for cleaning the place, catering the place, sell the rooms, it costs money. Every penny a supporter pays it goes straight into the club to spend.

"This football club feels, at the moment, it is reasonably cheap to watch the team play. That's easy for me to say because I am not dipping in to my pockets to pay £28 for a ticket, for someone who might then have to pay out to bring his kid. I can understand it, it's a huge cost. People will find the money if it is Man United because they want to see Rooney or Arsenal and van Persie. The Premier League can generate that."

When Mowbray led Middlesbrough to promotion in the 1986-87 season it was not until the last game of the season that they peaked at 18,000 at Ayresome Park.

At the Riverside, however, they had full houses throughout their promotion season in 1997-98 on the back of relegation from the Premier League.

Despite feeling that it could be a struggle to convince the stayaway fans to return, Mowbray is convinced that if promotion hopes can be maintained then they will gradually see attendances rise.

"If we can get within touching point of the Premier League we will break 20,000 and I would like to think we would be nearer to 25,000 in the last few weeks if we were still up there," he said.

"I would like to think the fans wants to see Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal. At the moment, having spent so long in the Premier League, fans find it hard to spend money to watch some of the teams in the Championship."

Boro, who have Rhys Williams available after he returned from international duty showing no ill effects from a knee problem he sustained, head into today's match with Blackpool in with a shout of reclaiming second spot.

If Mowbray can oversee a victory today and record a positive result at Peterborough United next weekend, it would set up an intriguing promotion battle with West Ham United on Tuesday, November 29.

"We have seen an improvement on our early season form at home and we have to be pleased with that," said Mowbray. "While we are 16 games without defeat at the Riverside, there have been way too many draws for our liking.

"The positive from that is that we have won the last two at the Riverside and we will try to make that a hat-trick. But overall this season, we have lost two from 16 and we have to be happy. If we show that sort of form in the next 16 we will be up there, I'm sure."