Middlesbrough U21s v Town
Middlesbrough: Jo Fryer, Callum Johnson, Niall McGoldrick, Matthew Elsdon, Fabio, Bryn Morris, Joao Morelli, Lewis Maloney, Carlos de Pena, Callum Cooke, Junior Modal
Subs: Aynsley Pears, Hayden Coulson, Mark Kitching, Tom McAloon, Jordan McGhee, Josef Wheatley
Town: Mark Halstead, Olly Lancashire, Shaun Whalley, Abu Ogogo (c), Ivan Toney, Louis Dodds, Junior Brown, Jack Grimmer, Dom Smith, Gary Deegan, AJ Leitch-Smith
Subs: Callum Burton, Ian Black, Jim O'Brien, Anthony Sarcevic, Mar Sadler, George Waring, Ethan Jones
Ref: Darren Handley
Assistants: David Benton and Ian Dudley
Fourth Official: Anthony Backhouse
Attendance: 308 (30ish)
Paul Hurst makes four changes as his Town side play their last game of the Checkatrade Trophy., Jayson Leutwiler is away on national duty with Canada so in comes Mark Halstead, Adam El-Abd has a slight calf strain so isn't risked, Shaun Whalley, Olly Lancashire and Dom Smith come back into the starting line-up.
Town looked bright in the early exchanges and were 2-0 up with less that quarter of an hour on the clock. The first goal after AJ Leitch-Smith saw put in on goal, he showed good strength to hold off two defenders before hitting an explosive shot into the top corner to give Town the early lead.
The second goal came minutes later after Town were awarded a free-kick, Ivan Toney placed the ball and then curled a lovely shot up and over the wall into the top corner giving Fryer in the Boro goal no chance.
Town continued to play well and look to add to their lead but as the half wore on the game entered into a bit of a stalemate.
Boro began to see more of the ball in the Town half and de Pena had a couple of decent efforts on goal but on both occasions Halstead was equal to it with two smart saves.
The first booking of the game came to Town after Ogogo clipped the heals of Morris as he attempted to break.
With the half-time break approaching Town had another decent chance when Leitch-Smith once again showed good positive play bursting into the box, he rode several challenges before electing to shot with Dodds available in space, but Fryer was equal to it with a smart save.
Town had a good chance to add to their lead 5-minutes into the half, Junior Brown had the ball out on the left, he curled a lovely inviting ball into the box to find Louis Dodds unmarked in front of goal but he got his header all wrong and put the ball well wide of the target.
Town got a third goal on the hour mark and it was a second for AJ Leitch-Smith, the ball found him in the box and he allowed the ball to drop before hitting a lovely low shot that flew past Fryer at the base of the post to make it 3-0.
Paul Hurst then made his first change with Ethan Jones coming on to replace double goal scorer AJ Leitch-Smith. He was then forced into another change after Junior Brown had stayed down, physio Chris Skitt came across and the decision was taken quickly to replace Brown with Mat Sadler coming on to replace him.
Town had another good chance after Town put the pressure on the Boro goal, the ball dropped in between the defence and Whalley was alert to nick possession and burst into the box, he then curled his shot in but had too much on it and it was over the bar.
Boro had chance late on after they moved the ball quickly, it came to Morris who found the space in the Town box but the visitors got bodies in the way to get in an important block to deny Morris.