The next opponent we focus on is a team and place that Rovers boss Tony Mowbray knows very well indeed!
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2017-18?
It was one which ended in disappointment for Boro, who suffered defeat in the play-off semi-finals to Aston Villa, but it improved hugely after Tony Pulis took over from Garry Monk in the hotseat. One defeat in their final seven games saw Pulis' side sneak into the top six at the end of the campaign, but the momentum couldn't take them through to the final and beyond. After losing the first leg of the play-offs to Villa after Mile Jedinak's solitary goal, they couldn't find a way past a resolute Villa defence for the return leg in the Midlands, with Stuart Downing clipping the bar from a free kick being the closest they came to progressing.
A BIT ABOUT THE BOSS
A former defender in his playing days, Welshman Tony Pulis was appointed Boro boss on Boxing Day in 2017 after departing West Bromwich Albion. A former player most notably for Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth, the Newport-born 60-year-old cut his teeth in management with Bournemouth in 1992, taking over after Harry Redknapp took the West Ham United managerial job. He would spent three years at the helm before moving on to Gillingham in the summer of 1995 and had a successful time in Kent, winning promotion from the Third Division in his first campaign before losing in the Second Division play-off Final to Manchester City on penalties in 1999. That was to be his final game in charge of the Gills as he was controversially sacked and moved on to Bristol City. He was in charge for just over 30 games before departing, and achieved a similar number at Portsmouth, where he spent less than a year on the south coast. After two years out of the game, Pulis took in a first spell with Stoke City, joining the Potters in 2002 and spending three years there before being sacked and linking up with Plymouth Argyle. He would spend less than a year in Devon before Stoke - under new ownership - opted to take him back to the Potteries, and it would be a wise move for the club, with the Welshman taking them to the Premier League and overseeing more than 300 games in the seven years he would end up remaining in Staffordshire. He departed at the end of the 2012-13 season and later that year took charge of Crystal Palace, managing to keep them in the Premier League, but by the time the start of the 2014-15 season opted to leave the south London club. Once again, he wasn't out of work long, and on New Year's Day 2015 he was appointed West Bromwich Albion manager, where he would spend almost three years, but following a poor start to last season, he moved on and was quickly appointed Boro boss.
WHAT'S THE GROUND LIKE?
Opened in 1995, the Riverside Stadium has seen Premier League football come and go over the years and can hold 34,000 supporters. Rovers fans will be housed in the South Stand of the stadium, behind one of the goals, which can accomodate up to 4,000 supporters.
THE LAST TIME WE LOCKED HORNS
Hope Akpan and Danny Graham goals earned the points for Rovers at Ewood Park, as we held on despite Adam Forshaw pulling a goal back for the visitors late on.
WHO'S PLAYED FOR BOTH?
There have been a number of connections between Rovers and Middlesbrough, with a few of our current crop being ex-Boro men. The boss appeared over 400 times for Middlebrough before going on to manage them and Mark Venus was his assistant for that spell. Current Rovers Danny Graham and Richie Smallwood both started their careers at the Riverside, whilst Harry Chapman spent last season at Ewood Park on loan from Boro. A legend at both Middlesbrough and ourselves, we signed Stuart Ripley from the north-east side in 1992 and the winger went on to play a key role in our Premier League success. Paul Ince was a former Middlesbrough player before moving into management at the likes of Macclesfield Town, MK Dons and then Rovers. Others to have represented both include Craig Hignett, Yakubu, Marcus Bent, Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede.
There are a number of famous Boro fans, most notably Chris Rea, who sung the catchy Christmas song Driving Home For Christmas. Actor Stephen Tompkinson - well known for his time in the drama Wild At Heart is a supporter of Boro, as is comedian and actor Bob Mortimer. X Factor winner James Arthur is also a fan of the Teessiders.