FIVE Middlesbrough youngsters who will have impressed Jonathan Woodgate in Sunderland win
First-team head coach Jonathan Woodgate was in attendance as Middlesbrough Under-23s came from behind to beat Sunderland Under-23s at Eppleton CW, Hetton, on Monday night.
The Boro boss, who is keen to give youngsters a chance at the Riverside, will have taken the positives after Boro recorded a 3-2 win over the Black Cats courtesy of two Stephen Walker penalties and a close-range finish from substitute Rumarn Burrell.
We’ve picked out five players who caught the eye:
Isaiah Jones – The 20-year-old winger joined Boro from non-league side Tooting & Mitcham in the summer and showed why Boro were keen to sign him.
Jones was a constant threat on the left flank and won the visitors’ first penalty after charging past and drawing a foul from defender Brandon Taylor.
The Boro winger regularly won the ball back and helped his side advance up the pitch, before setting up Burrell for the Teessiders’ third goal.
Hayden Hackney – Still only 17, the central midfielder is playing beyond his age and has now started four of the under-23s’ five league games this season.
Hackney signed his first professional contract with Boro in June after playing regularly for the under-18 side last term.
Against Sunderland, Hackney and midfield partner Connor Malley controlled proceedings for large spells, with the former latching onto several loose balls in the engine room.
Stephen Wearne – After joining up with Boro’s first-team squad in the summer, Weanre has kept his momentum going with the under-23s.
The 18-year-old grew into the match as it went on, picking up pockets of space in the No 10 position, and won Boro’s second penalty.
Connor Malley – Woodgate is a big admirer of the 19-year-old who has started on the bench for first-team games against Bristol City and Reading in recent weeks.
Against Sunderland, Malley showed composure on the ball and a good range of passing alongside midfield partner Hackney.
Stephen Walker – The striker has also been included in first-team matchday squads this season and made his senior league debut against Blackburn last month.
Walker spent the early exchanges on the fringes but composed himself to convert two penalties either side of half-time.