WHILE acknowledging Saturday's performance at Wigan was perhaps not one of the best of the season, George Friend spoke with great pride about a personal achievement.
Boro had to battle for a point against a side that began the day third bottom; they won't be there for long. But the game brought Friend's 100th appearance in a Boro shirt.
When asked for his thoughts on the day, the fans' favourite quipped: "A hat-trick and a bicycle kick from me would have been nice, but that was never going to happen!"
Reflecting on the game, Friend admitted: "We always knew this would be a hard game. With the new manager coming in there will probably be a revival now for Wigan.
"I thought we were poor first half, a bit better second half and Pat (Patrick Bamford) took his goal well and maybe we could have had a penalty to nick it at the end. We weren't our usual selves and they came at us with a lot of energy. They got to every second ball ahead of us and we couldn't get our rhythm going. We were a bit better in the second half and got a deserved point, though maybe we got a bit lucky at times."
Boro had to come from behind after Shaun Maloney's excellently-struck free-kick in the 24th minute - the Scot had shaved the bar with a similar effort a few minutes earlier. Four out of the last five goals conceded by Boro have been from set-pieces and Friend admits: "As a defender it was a shame to concede. We don't concede that many these days and every single one hurts. It was a fantastic free-kick, but it's still a goal against."
Wigan began the game amid a sea of controversy surrounding their chairman Dave Whelan and new manager Malky Mackay. "The manager (Aitor Karanka) spoke about it beforehand and said it has nothing to do with the game. He said 'Don't think you're going to go there and have an easy game because of what's going on behind the scenes. It's nothing to do with the players and they won't care that much.'
"I don't think Malky Mackay will be bothered that much, he's a manager with a good track record and he's got teams in to the Premier League before."
Of his personal achievement, Friend added: "Personally I'm really proud to have played 100 games for the Boro, I've never done it for any other club before and I hope I go on to make a lot more. I remember at one point I was one on one with Emmerson Boyce and I glanced up and saw the Boro fans going mad and it gives you that extra push. I got a bit of pace from somewhere and managed to get a cross in.
"The support has been amazing. The lads spoke a lot about that before the game. When we came out to inspect the pitch we were applauded on and we're thinking 'hang on a minute, we haven't done anything'! It's great to have that support, they have been brilliant all season.
"The manager always stresses to us to take one game at a time and not to take notice of the league table, but for sure it's better to be where we are than then 10 or 20 places behind. You have to enjoy being up here and take pride and a bit of confidence knowing we deserve to be up there."
Next up it's Blackburn at the Riverside, click here to go to the online ticket office.