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Hartlepool United 0 Middlesbrough 5: Boro's £21million frontline runs riot as Pools' summer ends in defeat

Marcus Dinanga makes his home debut for Pools.
Marcus Dinanga makes his home debut for Pools.

It's not every week Hartlepool United will come up against a forward line which cost more than £21million to assemble.

And it's a good job as £15million Britt Assombalonga and £6million former Sunderland loanee Ashley Fletcher tore Pools' final pre-season preparation game to shreds - ably assisted by Hartlepool lad Harry Chapman.

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Assombalonga netted the opener just after the half hour when he reacted quickest turn home after Lewis Wing had cracked off Scott Loach's bar and the keeper had parried a Chapman volley.

Having failed to concede a goal all summer, Loach was again picking the ball out of his net less than a minute later and it was again Assombalonga on target.

More clever work down the left by Chapman saw the Poolie open up a free path to Loach's goal and one simple pass laid it on a plate for the striker.

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It was 3-0 five before the break when an expert long-range ball split the Pools backline in half and Fletcher rounded the keeper with a faint and tucked in to take the game out of Matthew Bates' men's reach.

The onslaught continued when a Marcus Tavernier corner was nodded in for 4-0 by that man Assombalonga.

As far as halves of football go, this was a one to forget for Pools, who looked second best in every department. It's no shock mind, given that three divisions separate the pair.

After the break things didn't let up and less than 60 seconds after the restart Fletcher had made it five, after a jinking, mesmerising run from Chapman.

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And despite plenty of huff and puff that was the way it stayed.

Salford City might well have the most expensive frontline in the National League but it's some way off Boro's. This was a tough day for Pools defensively, but they'll have very few like this to contend with when the real ball comes out.

A sour end to what has otherwise been a positive summer. Onwards and upwards to Maidstone in seven days.

Pools XI (3-4-2-1): Scott Loach, Peter Kioso, Mark Kitching, Carl Magnay, Andrew Davies, Conor Newton (Paddy McLaughlin 62), Liam Noble, Ryan Donaldson, Josh Hawkes (Marcus Dinanga 46), Niko Muir (Jake Cassidy 74), Luke James.

Subs: Ryan Catterick, Louis Laing, Lewis Hawkins, Michael Woods, Nicky Featherstone, Myles Anderson, Kenton Richardson.

Goals: Assombalonga 34, 36 & 45, Fletcher 39 & 46

Attendance: 1747 (544 Boro fans).