TWO Middlesbrough youngsters impress as George Friend's leadership shows in Bishop Auckland win: Three things we learnt
Middlesbrough brushed aside Northern League Division One side Bishop Auckland 7-1 at Heritage Park, as senior players George Friend, Adam Clayton and Marvin Johnson all featured – but what did we learn from the game?
Goals from Ben Liddle, Conner Malley, Rumarne Burrell, Johnson, Sam Forlaine, trialist Andron Georgiou and Hayden Coulson secured a convincing win for the visitors. Here are some of the main talking points from the match.
Friend’s leadership is key – Boro’s skipper received his first run out of pre-season following a hip injury he picked up last season.
The 31-year-old started at centre-back in a 4-1-4-1 formation alongside young Boro left-back Hayden Coulson.
Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate has previously praised Friend for acting as a role model for the club’s younger players and those qualities were clear to see here.
Friend regularly guided and instructed his younger team-mates in the heart of defence, with anchorman Adam Clayton also taking on a lead role.
Young Boro midfielders impress – Woodgate wants to promote players who can pass and keep the ball as he looks to play an attacking brand of football at the Riverside.
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That could provide opportunities for young Boro midfielders Liddle, 20, and Malley, 19, with both impressing at Heritage Park.
The duo played in front of Clayton in Boro’s preferred system, with both looking comfortable on the ball and linking-up play in the engine room.
Liddle opened the scoring for the visitors from the penalty spot before Malley made it 2-0, after a powerful run with the ball and neat finish from a tight angle.
Johnson shows his quality – The 28-year-old winger has struggled since his move to the Riverside in 2017 and was sent out on loan to Sheffield United last season.
The winger showed what he’s capable of here, though, with a goal and a couple of assists from the left flank, albeit against lesser opposition.
With Boro’s senior squad still short of wingers Johnson could be an option for Woodgate out wide this campaign.