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Darlington defeated by Boro youngsters
Darlington 0 Middlesbrough XI 2
Two goals inside two second half minutes were enough to defeat Darlington as they reached the halfway stage of their pre-season programme with another loss.
A strong performance by Middlesbrough’s under 21s inflicted the 2-0 defeat at Heritage Park, with a cracking strike by Nick Haughton being the highlight as Quakers were given a stern test.
Manager Martin Gray was without a number of senior players such as Gary Brown, Stephen Thompson, Craig Gott, Leo Scott, Paul Robinson and Amar Purewal, while he gave a run-out to trialist Lee Bullock.
The former Hartlepool player played at centre-back and was kept occupied by the young visiting line-up, who featured a number of talented individuals.
Haughton stood out and was twice close to scoring inside the first five minutes. First with a free-kick that cannoned off the crossbar and then with a shot that the midfielder, who is on trial, screwed wide as the young Teessiders started at swift tempo.
A rare Quakers attack began when Haughton was tackled by Hunter and the move led to Andy Johnson playing the ball across goal to David Dowson, but it was just beyond his strike-partner.
Dowson was involved again when a deft through-ball landed at Kerry Hedley’s feet, but keeper Connor Ripley got off his line quickly to block the winger’s effort.
Quakers keeper Mark Bell came on as a sub at halftime and his first two tasks were to pick the ball out of the net, the first time after Haughton’s eye-catching 25-yard sailed into the net.
The keeper had no chance of saving the effort, which drew applause from the small crowd of 289. Clearly many fans were put off by the £9 ticket price, but Haughton’s goal was worth the admission.
Within 60 seconds the result was effectively sealed when Bradley Fewster turned home at the near post following a right-wing cross by the impressive Lewis Sirrell.
Trialist striker Tom Atkinson came off the bench for Darlington and his best moment saw him break through the centre of Boro’s defence, only to steer hit his effort wide of goal.
Darlington are at Gateshead on Saturday (3pm).
Darlington (4-4-2): Turns (Bell 46); Hunter, Bullock, J Robinson, Galbraith; Moore, Davis, Francis (Riley 56), Hedley; Dowson, A Johnson (Atkinson 60). Subs: Poole, Mitchell, Cox, Coatsworth, Lovegreen, Scarr
Middlesbrough (4-5-1): Ripley (Lutwieler 46); Fowler, Weledji, Jackson, Callaghan; Sirrell (Jones 70), Halliday, Rhoden, Waters (Burn 79), Haughton (Kneeshaw 85); Fewster. Sub (not used): Percer
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