GOALS from Tom McAloon and Andy Halliday edged Boro's U21s to victory this afternoon. Writes GORDON COX from Rockliffe.
It was no more than Boro deserved after dominating possession in the first half and responding well when the visitors upped their game in the second.
Boro pressed early and with just 11 minutes played Lewis Maloney whipped a free-kick just wide following a foul on the edge of the box on McAloon.
The performances of McAloon and Maloney were both eye-catching and indicative of a team display which had Brighton stretched at one end and more often than not nullified at the other.
Luke Williams shot wide after good work from Andy Halliday had set him up, then positive approach play from McAloon threatened a breakthrough.
Dominant in possession, Boro eventually edged in front after 37 minutes when neat play from Callum Cooke in the build-up set up Tom McAloon who stroked home from close range.
Cooke was again involved as Boro gave the scoreline a more realistic feel three minutes into the second half. In place to go for goal himself on the edge of the penalty area he unselfishly picked out Andy Halliday to his right and despite the best efforts of central defender Danny Pappoe to keep the ball out, a well-struck drive carried too much power.
Three minutes later Brighton were unexpectedly back in the game when hesitancy and a slip in the Boro rearguard allowed James Muitt the chance to pounce and race quickly into the penalty area before stroke home low to the right of Connor Ripley who really hadn't had that much to do.
Brighton were better in the second half and the introduction of Jason David to attack down the right certainly gave Boro plenty to think about.
But it was Boro who were closest to adding to the scoresheet as Williams lobbed just over after being set-up with a superb long pass from left-back Andre Bennett. Williams then shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle before teamwork involving Ripley, Williams and Andy Halliday set up Bradley Halliday to shoot low and win a corner when the approach deserved more.
Boro: Ripley; B Halliday, Atkinson (Capt.), Burn, Bennett, Morris, A Halliday, Maloney (Tinkler 83), L Williams (McCarthy 85), Cooke, McAloon (Kitching 78). Subs: Coddington (gk); Weledji.
Brighton: Walton; Collar, Hunt, Rea, Dallison, Pappoe, Deen (Hutchinson 53), Starkey, Muitt, Harris (David 53), Cole. Subs: Wiltshire, Smith, Barclay.
Referee: Graeme Fyvie
Bookings: Dallison, 17, foul; Starkey 71, shirt pull.