Collins felt at home in the Championship against Boro

James Collins celebrates his goal against Middlesbrough
James Collins celebrates his goal against Middlesbrough

Town striker James Collins thought he handled the step-up to the Championship just fine on Friday night.

The 28-year-old had never played above League One during his career to date, although did have a season in the Scottish Premier League for Hibernian during the 2013-14 campaign.

However, he looked at ease throughout, scoring a late leveller for the Hatters as they held Middlesbrough to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Kenilworth Road in front of the Sky cameras.

Collins said: “I felt quite comfortable.

“Obviously they were great Championship defenders, they’re big guys, they play good football and they’re in a good team, but I thought I managed to score a goal and get a couple of chances, so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

“When you get Middlesbrough at home first game of the season, it’s massive club, it’s a Premier League club really.

“I thought we more than matched them and they’ve got some quality players, but we showed what quality we’ve got at times.

“So it is pleasing to go toe-to-toe with a big side like Middlesbrough.”

After Collins' start to last season, where he went nine games without finding the net, eventually scoring against Charlton on September 29, he was thrilled to be up and running at the first time of asking, sweeping home from close range when Dan Potts' effort was blocked.

He said: “I think whatever you level you play at, it’s always good to get off the mark for a striker.

"It just so happens that this time it’s the Championship, it’s my first one in the Championship and hopefully it’s not going to be my last.

“I just tried keeping a cool head and hit the target.

"It was a little bit easier than what it looked as there was a quite a big gap and I managed to sneak it in the corner, so I was delighted.

“I thought it was a great game for the neutral, six goals, a penalty miss, end-to-end game, two good teams who wanted to win the game.

"It was a great game ans a pleasure to be involved in.”

Manager Graeme Jones was just as pleased to see his main man off the mark immediately, saying: "He's just a pleasure to work with.

"As a character and as a player, he never stops.

"Again, I think football rewarded him, I can’t remember James having a chance, and he could have ended up winning the game, so I'm delighted for him.”

Collins’ strike came just four minutes after Boro fluffed a huge chance to put the game to bed, Britt Assombalonga hammering a penalty over the bar.

The Town forward felt that miss spurred his side on to grab a point, adding: “I thought once he missed the penalty it was our cue to go on and win the game.

“The lads really got belief from the penalty miss and I think in the end we should have won it, but the keeper’s (Darren Randolph) made a great save.

“We showed great character after conceding quite early and then going 2-1 up, it was brilliant from the lads, two great goals as well.

“We conceded from a set-piece, maybe a goalkeeping error and then one worldie from outside the box.

"So if you narrow down the mistakes then you go on and win the game, but I thought a draw was the fair result and both teams should be happy.”