Coach explains why Middlesbrough changed formation at Newcastle with Jonathan Woodgate in attendance
Middlesbrough’s under-23 side changed formation at Newcastle on Monday night to accommodate three first-team players.
Marcus Browne, Marc Bola and Anfernee Dijksteel, who all signed for the Teessiders in the summer, played the full 90 minutes during a 2-2 draw at Whitley Park.
Boro took a two-goal lead at half-time courtesy of goals from Stephen Walker and Ben Liddle but couldn’t maintain their advantage, after Newcastle’s Jack Young pulled one back and substitute Oisin McEntee equalised in stoppage-time.
Like the first team have done in recent weeks, Boro operated with a back three and wing-backs, Bola and Dijksteel, while Browne operated in a central position just behind Walker up top.
Assistant lead coach Danny Schofield told the Mail after the game: “First half, without seeing the footage back, I thought there was some fantastic football,”
“We shifted the ball really quickly, had some good movements, attacked well with the wing-backs later in the first half.
“But second half I thought Newcastle dominated the game. They had a lot of possession, pressed us a bit higher up than they did in the first half and it was probably a fair result in the end.”
Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate was in attendance at Whitley Park and has been in regular contact with academy staff this season.
When asked about the inclusion of Browne, Dijksteel and Bola, Schofield added: “Three or four days ago the gaffer spoke to us and said he wanted them to play.
“We played a different shape to what we have been playing, similar to what the first team play, so we went with three centre-backs and wing-backs.
“We tried to mirror what the first team do to coach some of those concepts which is a good thing because it give our players an understanding of the way the first team are going to play.
“We’re in regular contact (with the first team), I think the academy needs to be connected with the first team which it is at Middlesbrough which is really positive.
“The messages are very consistent and we try to deliver that throughout the team.”