Merouane Zemmama celebrates his second goal against Hastings - Photo by North News

Despite an injury-list as long as it has been under his tenure, manager Tony Mowbray was still able to name a strong side.

Nicky Bailey started in the unfamiliar role of central defender, while there were rare outings for Kevin Thomson and Merouane Zemmama, the latter starting a game for the first time since late September.

Youngsters Jordan Jones, an attacking midfielder, and England U17 captain Bryan Morris, who can play in central defence or midfielder, were on the bench for the first time, while defender Christian Burgess kept his place on the bench from the game with Derby on New Year's Day.

Whoever wins the FA Cup this season won't have won as many games in the competition than Hastings. In their ninth game they were backed by more than 1,000 fans who made the 620-mile round trip.

Boro won the game's first corner with 42 seconds played as goalkeeper Liam O'Brien, signed on loan yesterday from Barnet, couldn't quite keep the ball in after Luke Williams pressed down the left.

It was noticeable how much more open Hastings were compared with a league side, but they were organised and got men behind the ball. It was until after the fifth minute that Jason Steele got his first touch and that wasn't from a chance.

Plucky and determined, Hastings weren't short on mobility when they did manage to break free from a stranglehold and good control from Bradley Goldberg allowed him time inside the Boro half. Nothing came of the move, but it was pleasing on the eye.

Boro continued to press and Ishmael Miller just cleared the bar with a header from a Luke Williams corner while Thomson saw a 22-yard shot deflected wide after clever approach work.

With 16 minutes played Boro were gift-wrapped a way to take the lead when Miller was brought down inside the penalty area by Matt Whitehead. Miller took the spot kick himself, but O'Brien produced a flying save away to his right.

The opening goal wasn't long in coming as Merouane Zemmama looked up 25 yards from goal and curled a delightful shot into O'Brien's top left-hand corner with just over 21 minutes played.

A few minutes later Adam Reach cut in from the left and shot low for goal as Boro went for more.

Possession being nine-tenths of the law, this was very much Boro's game and when Hastings won a corner their fans had, together with the penalty save, reason to celebrate. They had been in good spirits all afternoon and were a credit to their club.

Breaking swiftly, Boro moved down the right and Stuart Parnaby released Miller, who was left with a clear run on goal after a slip from Whitehead. But he never looked comfortable and player-manager Sean Ray produced an excellent tackle inside the penalty area.

Suddenly Hastings forged a half chance inside the Boro box and with bodies scrambling to cover, Jamie Crelin's shot was deflected for another corner.

Two minutes from half time they won another when a shot was deflected off Thomson and Steele was forced into a full-length save away to his right.

Approaching the final minute of the half Zemmama was just off target with a low curler from the edge of the penalty area before setting up Miller. whose first-time side-footed effort from 18 yards was well saved away to his right by O'Brien.

Half-time: Middlesbrough 1 Hastings United 0

A clever ball inside the full-back from Andrew Halliday set Reach away in the opening attack of the second half.

His low cross was diverted for a corner, from which Boro scored their goal as Luke Williams swung over a corner from the left, Hastings didn't clear and Andrew Halliday turned in from close range with 98 seconds of the half played.

He nearly added shortly afterwards when set up by a low cross from Miller but a fine save from O'Brien blocked his low shot from eight yards.

Just short of the hour Hastings burst through the middle, captain Lee Carey shot from the D and Steele was forced into a fine save, tipping the ball onto his right-hand post and round for a corner.

A minute later the latest product from Boro's Academy to make a first team appearance made his way onto the Riverside pitch as Luke Williams made way for Jordan Jones.

Zemmama brought a fine save away to his right from O'Brien after he shot low from the edge of the penalty area.

A few minutes later it was nearly a dream debut for Jones as Reach picked him out inside the area but his low shot was blocked.

The game then exploded into life with two goals in a minute.

With his second and Boro's third goal Merouane Zemmama put Boro three up as a shot just up from the edge of the penalty area took a deflection leaving O'Brien, in line with the original shot, with no chance of stopping it.

Bradley Goldberg celebrates scoring for Hastings - Photo by North News

Attacking from the restart, Hastings swept forward and Bradley Goldberg scored the goal of the game with a terrific dipping shot from close on 25 yards.

Ray produced another fine challenge to deny Miller, before Zemmama curled wide from a 22-yard free-kick as he went for his hat-trick.

That was a chance denied him when he replaced by another Boro youngster as Bryn Morris made his debut, slotting into the left side of midfield.

The Hartlepool-born player, who has captained England at U16 and U17 level, was soon part of a team celebrating a fourth goal as Ishmael Miller was allowed too much room on the edge of the penalty area and placed a low shot beyond the reach of O'Brien to the goalkeeper's right.

Each one of Hastings' substitutes had been applauded by Boro fans and the team were afforded deserved and generous applause on the final whistle. Some of their fans did the "Poznan" as the players went to show their appreciation, while their enthusiastic kitman shook the hands of every Boro player as they left the pitch.

Scorers: Zemmama, 21; Halliday, 47; Zemmama, 67; Goldberg, 68; Miller, 84.

Middlesbrough: Steele; Parnaby (Haroun 72), Bailey, R Williams (Capt), Halliday, Reach, Smallwood, Thomson, L Williams (Jones 60), Zemmama (Morris 82), Miller. Unused subs: Leutwiler (gk), Burgess, McDonald, Jutkiewicz.

Hastings United: O'Brien; Cox (Manning 71), Ray, Jirbandey, Whitehead, Vickers (Ellis 51), Carey (Capt), Crelin, Dixon (Okojie 76), Goldberg, Camara. Unused subs: Howard (gk); Daly, Richardson, Abbott.

Referee: Graham Salisbury, Lancashire.


Middlesbrough: Thomson
,87, handball.

Hastings United: Crelin, 16, dissent; Vickers, 39, dissent.

Attendance: 12,579 (1,068 Hastings)

Conditions: Cool, dry and breezy.

Website Boro Man of the Match: Richard Smallwood

Possession: Middlesbrough 56% Hastings United 44%




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*The fourth round draw is on Sunday afternoon at around 3.30pm.