Boro’s Under-23s fell to a second half treble from Norwich City at Heritage Park on Friday.

The Boro youngsters started the brighter in Bishop Auckland, particularly in pressing the visitors and winning the ball back high up the pitch.

Captain Jack Robinson fired in a free-kick from the angle of the penalty area which was tipped over the crossbar by opposing goalkeeper Joe Rose, and soon after Issac Fletcher stole possession in the visitors’ half and saw a low shot saved.

Fletcher was then inches away from turning in a Harry Green cross, while striker Josh Coburn headed one over from a dangerous position.

The Canaries - featuring first teamer Marco Stiepermann in their ranks - slowly came into the contest, and goalkeeper Brad James was twice on alert to save at the feet of striker Thomas Dickson-Peters when advancing on goal.

A third save from James to deny a fierce drive from Tony Springett was the best of the lot, while full-back Louis Lomas also headed over as City sought the game’s opening goal.

The second half began with the scores still level, and Boro’s Joe Gibson sent a curling effort narrowly over after being teed up on the edge of the box. Shortly after, Gibson was replaced by Sam Folarin on Boro’s right flank, while Rumarn Burrell - on loan at Bradford City - was also introduced for some competitive minutes.

It was the Canaries, though, that would make the breakthrough shortly after.

A moment of confusion in the Boro ranks saw full-back George Gitau get in a tangle of legs with opposite number Rob Nizet, conceding a penalty kick. Stiepermann stepped up to dispatch, sending James the wrong way from the spot.

The Canaries’ provider turned goalscorer minutes later, Nizet advancing forward and thumping a shot high past James into the top right corner.

Hayden Hackney saw a free-kick pushed away by Rose as Boro sought a route back in.

But it would soon be three as Joshua Giurgi drilled home a low effort at James’ front post.

The Boro goalkeeper made another good stop from Dickson-Peters to prevent the striker adding to Norwich’s tally, while Hackney had a late penalty shout waved away