Boro 1 Newcastle United 2
MIDDLESBROUGH: Schwarzer, Davies (Maccarone 62), Ehiogu,Riggott, Queudrue (Taylor 45), Morrison, Boateng, Doriva, Rochemback, Johnson (Viduka 45), Yakubu.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Parnaby.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Carr, Bramble, Moore, Elliott,Solano (Dyer 66), Bowyer, Emre (Faye 81), N'Zogbia, Shearer,Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Clark, Ramage.
The annual visit to the Acid Rain capital of Europe brings with it the usual trepidation. The smell of the place is frightening, and that does give cause for concern at this 'little town in Yorkshire'. Will we get kicked out by the over-enthusiastic Smoggy stewards for wearing gas masks; will we come down scabbies; will we get an infection from the seats and have to stand all game?
It's all part and parcel of a a day out at the Riverside. And of course there are the friendly locals. The Neanderthals who give the 'Time Team' a whole series of TV programmes without leaving the ground.
In the end we enjoyed our little visit, although they reckon the symptoms of scabbies doesn't show up for a week ... so we'll give you the verdict next week.
It meant back-to-back victories for Newcastle, while Boro had their excuses ready for a defeat long before kick off 'we can concentrate on the two cup competitions'.
Boro's defence struggled against a lively attacking performance from Shola Ameobi, who is going through arguably his best period of the season. He is stealing Alan Shearer's glory at the moment, as the ex-England skipper is winding down his career. Shearer made it clear he wanted to make his last trip to the Riverside a memorable one as he knocked seven bells out of the Boro defenders. Franck Queudrue and Ugo Ehiogu were both wearing head bandages from kick-off, probably hoping Shearer would go easy on them, but it didn't make and difference.
After four minutes Emre found Nolberto Solano in room on the right and the Peruvian crossed for Ameobi six yards out at the far post, but the striker flashed wide after his initial header failed to find Shearer.
Solano then tried his luck from long range, although his drilled effort flew over the bar and failed to trouble Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Just about everything constructive came from Solano, and when he was replaced in the second half the pattern of play changed. He was seeing plenty of the ball on the right flank early on, and he caused panic in the Boro penalty area with a low cross, but Ameobi failed to capitalise when Ehiogu trod on the ball and temporarily lost his bearings.
Ameobi should have scored after 15 minutes when Solano chipped a ball to him behind the Boro defence, but he carelessly flashed the volley wide and over.
Aiyegbeni Yakubu ran through with just Shay Given to beat but bottled it. Then Emre made a reckless challenge on Boateng and referee Alan Wiley initially allowed play to continue before booking the Turkey international, with Ameobi suggesting Boateng was feigning injury.
Newcastle took the lead from a corner, Ameobi heading Solano's set-piece to the far post where Boateng appeared to get the last touch as Bowyer and Titus Bramble challenged.
Charles N'Zogbia was off target twice with long-range efforts, and Ameobi should have had a penalty when he went down under the challenge of Chris Riggott in the area after Stephen Carr had pulled the ball back from the right.
On the stroke of half-time Solano chipped a ball for Carr to surge into the penalty area and although the full-back's progress was halted, Ameobi drilled the loose ball into the far corner.
McClaren brought on Andrew Taylor and Mark Viduka at half-time for Queudrue and Adam Johnson, but United still held the upper hand. Solano had a dangerous free-kick deflected for a corner after 54 minutes, with Shearer heading over the resulting set-piece.
Ameobi went crashing into Boateng to pick up a booking and Bowyer was fortunate to escape a card three minutes later for a high challenge on Davies.
As I said earlier, when Solano was taken off United lost a lot of momentum and Boro finally got to grips with the midfield. Boateng pulled a goal back with a volley that deflected in off Bramble, but Newcastle held on for three points.