Boro’s Under-23s continued their fine form with a 3-1 win over Sunderland in the north east sunshine.
Harry Green opened the scoring inside five minutes, and Josh Coburn netted either side of half-time to seal the youngsters’ fourth straight victory.
There was involvement for a handful of players on the first team fringes - Luke Daniels enjoyed a full game in between the posts, Sol Bamba got through an hour after starting at left-back, Connor Malley captained the side in midfield, and Toyosi Olusanya was deployed first on the right flank and later up front.
The teams emerged to balmy sunshine for the afternoon kick-off at the Academy of Light, and the match began in frantic fashion.
Sunderland had struck the crossbar, albeit after the referee’s whistle had blown for an infringement, before Boro took the lead with the contest just three minutes old.
Coburn was the creator for Boro, teeing up Harry Green inside the area to have a run at goal, the midfielder rolling the ball coolly into the bottom corner.
It could easily have been two shortly after. William Kokolo embarked on a powerful run down the flank, left a Sunderland man on the floor with his chop back inside and squared to Coburn, who forced Anthony Patterson into a low save.
From then on, though, the Black Cats dominated the first-half proceedings.
Bamba made an important block from Kenton Richardson, and Harrison Sohna fired one straight at Daniels.
The best chance of the half for the home side was then squandered when Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka arrived at the back post to meet a well-weighted cross but prodded wide.
The pressure continued to come from the home side, Harris forced his way in behind and forced Daniels into action again, but the Boro keeper was equal to it and pushed behind.
But it was Boro, almost out of nowhere, who doubled the lead just before the break.
Isaac Fletcher played a slide-rule pass behind the Black Cats defence, and Kokolo was quickly onto it before squaring to Coburn. The striker had time to set himself before smashing into the back of the net.
Boro felt out of the blocks again in the second period, and Coburn quickly netted his second of the afternoon.
It came from a throw-in, Black Cats keeper Patterson spilling a loose ball at the striker’s feet which he pounced on to poke home from inside the six yard box.
The Teessiders, despite already being three-up, were much improved after the break. Coburn was in the hunt for his hat-trick, and came close after fed by Fletcher - firing goalwards but denied by Patterson, who got enough to keep it out.
It was to be Coburn’s last chance to claim a three-goal haul, he pulled up shortly after and was replaced by Sam Folarin. The substitute was lively from the off, and created a chance with an explosive run, teeing up Joe Gibson who sliced a shot which the home defence could hook away.
Sunderland did pull one back, Tyrese Dyce capitalising on a moment of hesitation in the Boro defence to control and volley home from close range.
But Boro could have added to the tally, Olusanya sending two efforts wide of the mark and Patterson making two more good saves to deny Green and Gibson.