Britt Assombalonga shows his class as Middlesbrough youngster takes his chance at Salford: Three things we learnt
Middlesbrough came from behind to win 3-1 at Salford in a pre-season friendly – but what did we learn from the game? We take a closer look at some of the main talking points from the Peninsula Stadium.
Britt Assombalonga is looking sharp – There must have been some concern that last season’s top scorer wouldn’t be available for the start of the season following his involvement at the Africa Cup of Nations.
But at the Peninsula Stadium the 26-year-old frontman was a class above, netting a hat-trick before being replaced on 66 minutes.
The first was an instinctive header at the back post, the second a first-time volley from just inside the area while the third was a poacher’s finish after a low cross from Hayden Coulson.
Assombalonga also demonstrated his all round game against the EFL newcomers, regularly dropping deep in the first half to link-up play. Boro fans will be happy to see him back.
Hayden Coulson impresses again – Despite his appearance at Bishop Auckland on Saturday, Boro captain George Friend was absent from the matchday squad as 21-year-old Coulson was handed another chance at left-back.
Coulson has impressed in Boro’s first team this season and may just have eased concerns regarding Boro’s lack of full-backs.
The left-back is excellent when dribbling the ball out from the back and provides a real outlet on the left flank when the side are transitioning from defence to attack.
Coulson’s low cross for Assombalonga’s third goal showed what the youngster can offer.
Boro need to be more decisive in the final third – An Assombalonga hat-trick may have lifted the mood among the Boro camp, yet Boro’s star striker will need help in the goalscoring department this season.
Up until the equaliser Boro found it difficult to break Salford down when the hosts dropped deep and defended with a back five.
Ashley Fletcher found himself on the fringes for most of the night after starting on the left and moving inside in the second half.
Woodgate’s 4-3-3 system also allows his central midfielders to join in with attacks, yet Lewis Wing and Paddy McNair, while getting into good areas, were often indecisive in the final third.