The most boiling hot Boro game I can remember. There were over 1000 fans in all in this first evening of unrestricted COVID sports watching, and several hundred of them had travelled from Teesside and all points in between to bake like potatoes in a Cornwall pasty.

Some of those fans were on the longest of day trips others were making a week of it. A red wall crossing the Tamar Bridge, admiring the engineering of Isambard Kingdom Brunel whilst crossing into Cornwall on a suspension bridge constricted in 1961 by Cleveland Bridge. See, there is always a Teesside link.

Neil Warnock made a pre-match walkabout posing for photos and signing autographs with Boro travellers, though he politely declined hand shakes. “I am in a bubble,” he replied before presenting an elbow.

Saltash United's tidy little Kimberley Stadium ground threw open its doors four hours before kick off to extend hospitality to the visitors. Beer and chips and a rock band providing entertainment to wash it all down. All helped pay for the league officials and ambulance required by Football League opposition.

What a fight Saltash United put up. The team in stripes were not shy in the challenge and once Boro's early enthusiasm from Tav and Watmore was quenched the home resistance proved very difficult to break down.

Boro's North Ireland international Paddy McNair was getting a run out in midfield and was on hand to side foot home after good work down the left. Yet if we thought that was the signal for a landslide Saltash had other ideas. A smart interchange of one touch football saw the ball quickly switched into the box and wafted away by Morsy's arm. Penalty. And there was no touch of the England stutters as the pen was thundered home into the corner past Latham.

So, 1-1 at half time and all that the home side deserved really.

Fitness was likely to tell in the second half, especially as Boro fielded plenty of runners from the bench in Spence, Coulson etc. Yet it was the old Northern Leaguer, Lewis Wing that showed the class to finally extinguish the Cornish non league opposition. A lovely turn before a finish with all the precision as if engineered by Brunel or Cleveland Bridge. That's the way to do it.

It was harsh on the new keeper who had only just taken over the gloves after the first choice keeper had earned a standing ovation for a very impressive game.

Lewis Wing continued to look dangerous in the centre and conducting some of the play as Boro ran raided continually down both flanks, Jeremy Sivy impressing throughout. Neil Warnock saying afterwards how impressed he has been with the youngster tonight and right through pre-season training. With the sun finally threatening to set Chuba Akpom skilfully bisected the defenders but narrowly screwed his shot wide. A final act on this sizzling sun-kissed pre-season affair from Saltash, Cornwall.
After the ,match Neil Warnock was keen to emphasise how Boro fans should be thanking him for bringing a week's sunshine to their football breaks.
He was fulsome in praise of the big travelling contingent.
"Well, I did warn them. I did warn Saltash that you would be surprised how many would turn up. We are actually training on Thursday here, an open day in the morning, you will be surprised how many come to that as well." Come on down for Neil's open house on Thursday at Kimberley Park, just over the bridge in Saltash.

Saltash United 1-2 Middlesbrough – McNair, Wing