Boro were toasting a first home win of 2020 after Shrewsbury Town were beaten in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
It was also a first home win for manager Neil Warnock, who took the reins in June, while Ashley Fletcher, Marvin Johnson, and Marcus Tavernier all bagged their first goals of the season against the League One side.
Boro’s last home win was against Huddersfield some 253 days ago, and the Riverside is a changed place. The stands are currently empty, and it’s Warnock barking out the instructions from the dug-out as he looks to mould his own Boro side.
The boss had spoken of his delight at the response shown by his players since returning to training a few weeks ago, and pre-season saw confidence boosting wins against Plymouth Argyle and Newcastle United, the latter by five goals in a training match earlier this week.
But against Shrewsbury, in the first competitive match of the season, the visitors struck inside the opening minutes when Scott High drilled a shot home from 25 yards.
It was all square soon after, though, when Shrewsbury keeper Harry Burgoyne let a Marvin Johnson shot slip through his grasp and across the line. Lewis Wing was the provider with a good cross to pick out Johnson, who hit it first time.
And Johnson was involved again when Boro went in front on the half-hour. He slipped a neat ball through to Fletcher who tucked the ball home for his first goal of the new season.
As the half wore on, but Boro played some good football, and when Wing shaped to deliver one of his trademark strikes, the visiting defence made a vital block.
The Shrews weren’t quick enough to close him down when he received the ball in another shooting position early in the second half and although his effort struck a post, Fletcher was on hand to convert his second of the evening.
The visitors were presented with a chance to reduce the arrears moments later, but Rekeil Pyke wasted a great chance by shooting wide of the mark with only Dejan Stojanovic to beat.
It was 3-2 on the hour, when Jason Cummins delivered a good finish after finding the space to convert after a corner by the visitors.
The two-goal cushion was swiftly restored, though, Marcus Tavernier finishing off after Wing sent a free-kick deep into the box.
The visitors were a spirited bunch and they pulled another back with 15 minutes remaining when Pyke scored, despite strong Boro claims for offside against the Shrewsbury striker.
Boro almost added a fifth in stoppage time, Burgoyne pulling of a fine save to deny substitute Marcus Browne who delivered a great strike, but four proved enough in securing that elusive win on home soil.