0 - 2Full Time
Spennymoor Town gave an excellent account of themselves but ultimately fell short against a quality Middlesbrough side, losing 0-2 at The Brewery Field.
Patrick Bamford’s second-minute penalty gave Boro the lead, which was doubled deep into the second half by Britt Assombalonga.
Tony Pulis fielded a star-studded line-up for the visit to Spennymoor, just days after the Boro squad returned from a gruelling fitness training camp in Austria. Jason Ainsley, meanwhile, is still very much in the planning stage of pre-season and he tried out multiple combinations of personnel throughout the game. Spennymoor started with all six of their summer signings on the pitch and also gave four triallists a superb opportunity to play against the Championship outfit, who all came on as substitutes in the second half.
The bristling atmosphere was extinguished within two minutes as Boro’s first foray into the Spennymoor box saw goalkeeper Mat Gould bring down Paddy McNair, who suddenly found himself with a good opportunity to shoot.
Patrick Bamford made no mistake from the spot, slamming home down the middle to give Boro the lead and begin what looked like it could turn into a rout.
But the Moors found their feet soon after, with Ramshaw and Chandler both winning challenges inside the Boro half and mounting dangerous looking attacks to remind Boro not to rest on their laurels.
Taylor was fed by Chandler on 23 minutes, but the opportunity soon closed up inside the box on the left and he saw his left-footed shot blocked at source by Flint.
The biggest difference between the sides was the hulking figure of Adama Traore, whose explosive bursts down the wing were like nothing the Spennymoor players had ever faced. He left three in his wake on 25 minutes when he carried the ball 50 yards at full pelt towards the Moors area. Thackray and Brogan had to combine to stop him as he burst into the penalty area.
Traore again threatened to double Boro’s lead when he completed another blistering run to the edge of the area. Gould managed to save courtesy of him scuffing his shot from the edge of the box.
McNair came the closest to making it 2-0 on the stroke of half time when he plucked the ball out of the air, controlled on his chest and volleyed a foot over the bar.
Foley, Curtis, Hall and a triallist (full back) all came off the bench to start the second half, replacing Williams, Thackray, Johnson and Henry for Moors, while Boro replaced Gestede Bamford and Gibson with Fletcher, Assombalonga and Johnson.
In the first minute of the second half Moors had their best chance of the game. Foley found only a whisker of space on the left and managed to deliver an excellent cross, which Atkinson headed straight at Randolph.
Hibbs was suddenly at the heart of everything, hitting a 25-yard shot wide at one end, before making a crucial challenge at the other to stop Ashley Fletcher going through on goal.
Boro changed things further on 52 minutes. Howson, Clayton, Traore and Randolph made way for Se Sart, Wing, Leadbitter and Konstantopolous.
The substitutes livened Boro up as they looked to take advantage of a Moors side who had expended a lot of energy chasing the ball. Ashley Fletcher was slid through on goal with a defence-splitting pass, but he slipped over as he took his shot and the ball bobbled out for a goal kick.
Moments later Fletcher had a key impact. On 68 minutes his reverse ball found Assombalonga, whose dink was saved well by Gould. But bad luck saw the ball spin back to the Congolese striker inside the six-yard box and he tapped home to make it 2-0.
Moors made more changes on 69 minutes as Taylor and Brogan were replaced by a pair of triallists. One of whom immediately upended Fletcher in his own box for what looked like a certain penalty. Referee Mr Harrington was unmoved, prompting sarcastic VAR gestures from the Boro players, who had been in relaxed mood throughout the game.
Fletcher stayed involved for the remainder of the game for Boro, again finding himself in the clear, but shanking his shot into the side netting on 85 minutes.
Moors’ final change saw Gould make way between the sticks for another Triallist. The young goalkeeper was immediately involved and saved impressively at the feet of Ashley Fletcher, who found himself one-on-one again in Boro’s final chance of the match.
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