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Middlesbrough boss Southgate delighted with Riverside crowds

While they're battling against the drop, Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate admits the one big bonus has been the response from local fans.

Despite their plight, there is a growing sense of optimism on Teesside after four points from the club's last two games against Hull and Fulham.

Both were watched by crowds of more than 30,000 - a third is expected for United's visit next weekend - with the town rallying behind the team in their hour of need.

Southgate said: "Hopefully it's ongoing but certainly the last few weeks has seen a drawing together of the club and the town again.

"To get the crowds that we have got has been a joint effort because the club has made the effort with the ticket pricing and the supporters have really responded to that.

"They have also responded not only with the big crowd, but with the atmosphere within the stadium.

"It's been far more positive, which was possibly easier against Hull because we scored an early goal, but it continued against Fulham when it could have been a very frustrating afternoon for everbody.

"The crowd can reflect on that and think that not only did it have a massive impact on our team - because it was all they were talking about after the game, how great the feeling inside the stadium was - but it can also be an intimidating place for opposition teams to come to when it's like that.

"We have got two more home games where our fans can have that impact."

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