Kazaiah Sterling, Dylan Duncan and Samuel Shashoua all saw chances go begging at Boro’s Rockliffe Park before Lee Hetherington edged the hosts in front with a free header in the box five minutes after the hour mark.
Boro saw out the last 25 minutes to claim a 1-0 win and three points in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League, with Under-18s Coach Kieran seeing both positives and negatives in our performance on Teesside.
“I thought there were some good aspects to the game – George Marsh and Nya Kirby, the two midfielders, combined well to get through a tough Middlesbrough side, I thought the front four were a threat, the tempo of the game was good but we had two or three big moments in the game to score a goal and we weren’t clinical enough to take them,” he said.
“With the way the match was shaping up it was always probably going to be a one-goal game and the disappointing aspect for our players was that we weren’t good enough in front of goal to take the chances that we’d earned from some good bits of play.
“I don’t think you could really fault the commitment in terms of the running that we did and the challenges that we put in. In the first half we didn’t defend the box well enough and they didn’t really put us under much pressure, but when they did have the ball in and around our box they looked a threat.
“Alfie Whiteman made a couple of good saves but we could have defended the box better to prevent it from getting that far. Obviously we’re disappointed with the goal we conceded as well. We had to make a couple of changes to the back four but we didn’t get organised quickly enough from a cross, we didn’t get the back four unit right in that instance and a free header inside the box is disappointing. From there it was always going to be tough to come back in a game that was so tight.”