Planning my first few games of pre-season was quite a simple task. With Sunderland RCA vs Sunderland U23s planned for Thursday night, I was always going to aim to get to a game tonight too. Of the Northern League sides playing tonight, there wasn’t a great deal of local options and this was always going to be my game of choice. It’s not very often that I watch Middlesbrough’s first team so it was nice to watch them for a change. Upon arriving at the Brewery Field, I was surprised by the developments they made to the ground just since I was there at the end of last season. They’ve added a few new turnstiles at the main entrance, and they’ve nicely tidied up the bit of terracing just east of the main stand. Most noticeably though, they’ve added a few hundred seats to the stand behind the goal. A small cabin is now in the corner of the open end of the ground as a bar and there was also a burger van in the same corner. The developments are for the better, and I suppose they have to come with the development of the team on the field.
Middlesbrough pick up first pre-season win at Spennymoor
Middlesbrough picked up their first win of pre-season with a 2-0 win at Spennymoor Town on Tuesday night.
Patrick Bamford’s penalty in only the second minute put Boro ahead, and Britt Assombalonga doubled their lead in the 68th minute.
It was a good from Spennymoor who restricted their Championship opposition for the majority of the game.
New signings Matthew Gould, Callum Williams, Stephen Brogan, Kris Thackray, Rob Atkinson and Jake Hibbs all featured for Spennymoor.
Paddy McNair and Aden Flint both started for Middlesbrough, but Stewart Downing and George Friend could only watch from the stands after picking up knocks.
A rout was possibly feared as Middlesbrough took the lead after just 100 seconds. Spennymoor goalkeeper Gould brought down McNair after he had burst into the penalty area, leaving the referee no option but to point to the penalty spot.
Bamford took responsibility and the former Chelsea man converted from 12 yards.
McNair had a shot deflected behind for a corner in the seventh minute.
As the game settled down, Spennymoor grew in confidence. A couple of corners tested the Middlesbrough defence, before Andrew Johnson’s good work picked out Glen Taylor. The former Ashington man took aim, but Flint blocked his effort.
A superb run by Adama Traoré resulted with the Spain Under-21 international forcing a save from Gould, before Bamford volleyed a Ben Gibson cross wide.
McNair was next to go close. A sharp turn on the edge of the penalty area gave him room to shoot just before the break, but he could only curl narrowly over.
Following the break, Spennymoor were quickest out of the blocks. David Foley picked out Atkinson with a cross, but his header was saved by Darren Randolph.
Hibbs tried his luck from long-range for the hosts in the 50th minute, but the former FC Halifax Town man failed to find the target.
Flint then headed wide for Boro, before Dael Fry played in Ashley Fletcher only for his effort to find the side-netting.
Halfway through the second half, Middlesbrough doubled their lead. Fletcher’s perfectly weighted ball played Assombalonga in. Gould did well to save Assombalonga’s original effort, but the Congolese forward was left with an open goal for the rebound.
Just seconds after conceding a second, Spennymoor almost halved the deficit. Rob Ramshaw whipped a teasing ball into the penalty area, and Taylor was only inches from diverting it into the net.
Inside the final 15 minutes, a loose pass in the Middlesbrough defence gifted Ramshaw a chance. The former Gateshead man decided to take aim, but he failed to find the target with a 20-yard effort.
A couple of late chances fell the way of Fletcher for Middlesbrough, with Spennymoor’s trialist goalkeeper producing a brave save to prevent the latter of Fletcher’s two attempts.
It was a good work out for both sides. Despite defeat, Spennymoor will be able to take plenty of positives away from the game.
Full-time: Spennymoor Town 0-2 Middlesbrough
Next up for me is Sunderland RCA vs Sunderland U23s on Thursday.
Spennymoor Town: Gould (Trialist, 86′), Brogan (Trialist, 70′), Thackray (Trialist, 46′), Atkinson, Williams (Hall, 46′), Chandler, Ramshaw, Hibbs, Henry (Foley, 46′), Johnson (Curtis, 46′), Taylor (Trialist, 70′)
Middlesbrough: Randolph (Konstantopoulos, 55′), Shotton, Flint, Fry, Gibson (Johnson, 46′), McNair, Clayton (Leadbitter, 55′), Howson (de Sart, 55′), Traoré (Wing, 55′), Gestede (Assombalonga, 46′), Bamford (Fletcher, 46′)
Unused sub: Fábio
Admission: £10 adults, £5 concessions
Programme (A4 size): £2
Referee: Tony Harrington