Another entertaining night at the home of goals - Bodymoor Heath under lights and a half full house in the new stand. Chips and coffee sorted, a quick hello to the nice bloke who does the stadium announcements and settled into my seat behind Robbie Keane, I couldn't help but start to feel that our new home was starting to feel a bit more like home. Cold, brightly lit home.
Boro looked a big athletic bunch, none more so than their familiar looking number nine. I got a nice smile out of Rudy Gestede before kick off and he was made to feel quite welcome on the night - no matter what your opinion of his abilities is, he's a bloke that's scored a winner against the heath at Villa Park, and that still counts for a lot in my book.
Onto the game, we were noticeable smaller but we took it to them right from the off - quick passing, quick pressing and a really good appetite for the game. We went one-nil up after Vassilev put in some good work down the left switching play to the right and getting into the box and onto the end of Tait's cross.
They equalised soon after, a mistake let their right back, Dodds get in behind and Jamie Searle will be disappointed at having been beaten at his near post.
Our football was excellent though with Vassilev, Tait, Ramsey, Clarke and the full backs all buzzing around - our second goal featured just about all of them as we moved the ball at pace with some really good one and two touch stuff until we found the space for Vassilev in the box and he finished confidently to put us back ahead.
Ramsey was pleasingly busy and flicked the outside of a post sliding on to a cross, then put a one-on-one over the bar.
After half time, Gestede did the same and both sides continued to look threatening on the break. Mungo Bridge crashed a header off the bar from a set piece before a lovely touch in midfield from Gestede freed up Isaiah Jones for a second Boro equaliser.
Searle made a good save from Gestede before we went ahead again, Bridge striding through the middle and putting the ball out to Tait who crossed in for Clarke to make it 3-2.
A burst of pace from Colin Odutayo down the left and another good delivery let Clarke score his second for 4-2 on the night, before Rasmey released Walker who played in Tait to finish well and make it 5-2.
Boro still had time for a really good individual effort from Dodd again, a lovely curled finish from outside the box, but they never looked like pulling back the whole of the deficit in what was a deserved 5-3 win.
These games are as much about individuals as results so here's what I made of em:
Searle - will be disappointed with the first, but he made a good point blank save in the first half and a really good one from Gestede in the second to leave himself in credit. Didn't have a chance with the other two goals and generally looked okay.
Walker - he's just a proper footballer - he can tackle, he can get forward, he's strong, he's brave, he's vocal, he's got energy, he's positionally sound. I was looking for his weaknesses tonight - the best I can come up with is that he's got a very pink neck.
Suliman - he's classy at this level and I thought he did very well with Gestede, strength is the thing that you would think would worry him, but he dealt well with it. He's probably outgrown reserve team football and could do with another loan - he never seems to have a lot of luck with loans which is a pity because he's composed and sensible and a good defender.
Bridge - made a few errors in the first half, giving the ball away in dangerous situations - to his credit, he didn't let that affect him at all and grew into the game. He looks good coming out of defence with the ball and he's pretty quick. His contribution to our third goal was classy.
Rowe - I thought he had a really good first half and then battled hard in the second half. I have a feeling he's better than he thinks he is; he looks like a real pain to try to get around and he looked good going forward. I like him - he has the potential to be more than a grafter.
Guy - played the holding role and was a mixture of aggressive and sensible, although he looked like he enjoyed the aggressive more.- did a good job of clearing up where he had to and kicking through them when it needed doing. He was caught out once or twice, but he put in a really good shift will have given the Boro players something to grumble about on the way home.
Clarke - another all action performance - he loves to be involved. In the first half he quite often politely mentioned to his team mates that he'd quite like to see more of the ball - the beauty of the new set up is how clearly you can hear players, but I suspect you could hear Clarke from the car park. Two goals and a lot of really good running, another very good display.
Ramsey - I've criticised him before for not getting involved enough but you can't aim that at him tonight - in the first thirty minutes particularly he did a brilliant job of getting forward and making things happen, passes, movement and little flicks that created all sorts of trouble for Boro. In the last thirty he did a brilliant job of sitting a little deeper and showing how well he can pass the ball. A pity he didn't get on the scoresheet, I think this is the best game I've seen him have.
Tait - my man of the match, he's a non-stop winger who keeps coming at the full back and put in some great crosses. Two assists and a goal in a performance full of endeavour. He and Vassilev both have a bit of the Milner about them and they linked up well all game. This was a really bright showing from him.
Odutayo - he's sometimes got two different touches, there's the perfect one that's as soft as a lovers kiss and the other that's like a blind man with a saucepan, you're never quite sure which one you'll get at any moment - once he's got it under control though he's a really exciting player to watch - he's rapid, he's got wonderful feet and he put a trick on young Dodd just before he came off that would have had Ronaldinho off his seat.
Vassilev - our American junior Milner (can I get away with Milner-lite?) he's not really a striker, but he's just got so much energy that he's a real handful, he chases everything, always wants the ball and leads from the front. He thoroughly deserved the two goals.
The subs struggled to find quite the same rhythm as the first eleven but did their best to get into it as we tired.
The ref was a bit strange in that he seemed to call everyone "Sir" or "Fella" or by their number, with the exception of our fullbacks who he called Jake and Callum - I'd have been a bit concerned about that if I were a Boro player. Other than that he seemed okay.
It was cold, it's great to hear the players shout and to hear the instructions they get from Delaney, Dean Smith and the staff were in attendance, the pitch is fabulous and the whole thing is just all rather lovely.
I'll finish by again crediting the players and Mark Delaney on some really good football, we play the same shape as the first team and the same style, but at this level these guys do it better - some of the interplay between the front five was brilliant and there are partnerships everywhere that work - Walker and Tait down the right, Odutayo and Rowe down the left, Ramsey and Clarke through the middle and Vassilev's industry up front. There's no one here that you immediately look at and say "He should be in the first team" but there's a lot of promise in a very young side and they're a huge amount of fun to watch. If you get the chance you should try it.