FULL TIME: Hartlepool Utd 0 Middlesbrough 2

Darren Holden in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough tonight. Picture by Frank Reid
Darren Holden in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough tonight. Picture by Frank Reid

HARTLEPOOL United have been beaten 2-0 at home to Championship neighbours Middlesbrough in their latest pre-season friendly match.

Second-half goals from substitutes Adam Reach and Bradley Fewster secured the win for Aitor Karanka’s Boro side.

A half-time power cut in the centre of Hartlepool meant the second-half was played without any floodlights at Victoria Park, the game almost finishing in darkness.

It was a fair result, with Boro dominating the possession and creating the clearer chances against a Pools side which struggled to create any chances of note.

Experienced midfielder Jonathan Greening started in midfield for Pools in his first game on trial.

The 35-year-old started training with the League Two club on Tuesday following a two-week trial at Championship side Rotherham United.

There was no place in the squad, however, for Tommy Miller, who has been on trial at Pools for the past fortnight.

He was out with a hamstring injury while fellow trialist Michael Woods was again out with a groin injury.

Michael Duckworth and Luke James - who both signed new contracts with Pools today - started for the home side.

Former Boro players Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby both started against their former side, while James partnered Marlon Harewood up front.

Karana had named a strong side, with new signing Kike starting alongside former Pools players Dimi Konstantopolous and Christian Burgess and Luke Williams who enjoyed loan spells at the club last season.

It took Boro just 90 seconds to create their first opening.

Albert Adomah taking advantage of a poor Scott Flinders clearance to play in new signing Kike. His first time effort struck the foot of the right-hand post.

Adomah and Williams were causing Pools problems down the right-hand flank in the opening 10 minutes, with Darren Holden put under increasing pressure.

In the 14th minute, a whipped in Grant Leadbitter free-kick was just about dealt with by Flinders who palmed it away unconvincingly for a Boro corner.

Boro were having all of the possession and creating the better of the chances in the opening 20 minutes of the match, Flinders called into action to make a smart save from Williams who found himself free in the area.

The Pools defence were holding firm though, Matthew Bates in particular putting in some crunching tackles alongside Neil Austin at the back.

Pools had their first real chance at goal in the 20th minute, Brad Walker and Harewood combining well, with the latter playing in Jack Compton on the right-wing.

He cut inside but blasted his shot high over the bar.

Greening had started the match in between Walker and Stuart Parnaby, with Compton on the right and James tucking in on the right wing in the opening stages, as Cooper looked to counter Boro’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

Andy Halliday fired an effort in at goal in the 27th minute but it was straight at Flinders who dealt with it comfortably.

With 35 minutes on the clock, Kike curled a 25-yard effort inches past the right-hand post of Flinders after finding himself in space.

Pools hit back two minutes late, Compton again cutting in from the right side but his deflected shot was straight at Konstantopolous, who was afforded a warm reception on his return to Victoria Park.

The tempo of the game dwindled as the half wore on, with Pools struggling to create any goalscoring opportunities.

HALF-TIME: Pools 0 Middlesbrough 0

A half-time power cut didn’t prevent the players coming out for the second-half and Boro made the first sub, with Adomah replaced at the break with Adam Reach.

Halliday had the first attempt of the second half, his curling left-footed effort forced Flinders into making a smart save diving to his right to palm the ball away.

Two minutes later, in the 51st minute, it was 1-0 to Boro.

Halliday’s deep cross into the box was powered home by sub Reach who climbed above Austin 10-yards out, giving Flinders no chance with the towering header.

Williams, who was impressing on his return to the Vic, then cut in from the left and hit a fierce strike but it was well saved by Flinders.

Grant Leadbitter then tried his luck, again from distance, but it was deflected just wide for a corner.

Cooper’s first sub saw Jonathan Franks - another former Boro player - come on in place of the ineffective Compton, who failed to impress despite a couple of speculative efforts first half.

The power remained off in the town centre area of Hartlepool, which was affecting Victoria Park, well into the second-half.

In the 71st minute it was 2-0 Boro.

New Boro signing James Husband bombed down the left hand side and whipped in a pin-point cross onto the head of the onrushing sub Fewster who powered the header past Flinders.

Parnaby was then withdrawn for Pools, with Josh Rowbotham coming on in his place.

Parnaby went straight down the tunnel after being on the wrong end of a challenge earlier in the second-half.

Hartlepool lad Bryn Morris then entered the fray for Boro, on for Dean Whitehead with 15 minutes left to play.

In the 77th minute, Reach wrapped his boot around a sublime effort from 20-yards out which flew just past the right-hand post of Flinders.

Dangerous Fewster again tried his luck with a powerful effort as the game ebbed towards the 90 minute mark, with Boro fully deserving of their 2-0 win.

Full-Time: Pools 0 Middlesbrough 2

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Duckworth, Austin, Bates, Holden, Greening, Parnaby (Rowbotham, 73), Walker, James, Harewood, Compton (Franks 61).

Subs: Rafferty, Collins, Smith, Richards, Jones.

Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Konstantopolous, Bennett, Husband, Burgess, Hines, Whitehead (Morris 74), Leadbitter, Adomah (Reach, 46), Kike (Fewster, 68), Williams, Halliday (Atkinson, 72).

Subs: Gibson, Tomlin, Mejias.

Goal: Reach (51) Fewster (71)

Referee: Tony Harrington

Victoria Park, Hartlepool5