Toyosi Olusanya scored a stoppage time winner as Boro’s Under-23s kicked off their Premier League Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers.
Connor Malley captained the side at Heritage Park, while Josh Coburn led the line with Jeremy Sivi and Olusanya on the flanks. The Hoops, meanwhile, included senior midfielder Luke Amos after a long-term injury lay-off.
The first 20 minutes were combative and attritional, and passed by without any significant goalmouth action.
Malley bent a free-kick narrowly wide of the mark, and Coburn had a half-hearted shout for a penalty waved away as he looked to get in behind the visitors’ defence.
As the first half wore on, though, Boro began to asset themselves on the contest.
Olusanya stole possession high up the pitch and stabbed a shot wide via a hooped shirt, then a free-kick from Malik Dijksteel was flicked on by Coburn towards defender Andrew Nelson, who volleyed goalwards from a tight angle and forced a save from Max Little.
Two more chances came from Boro winning the ball back in dangerous areas, Coburn thwarted when trying to play in Sivi from the first, and seeing a low drive blocked from the second.
Early in the second half, Cain Sykes got forward from right back and delivered a teasing cross, with no-one in red able to capitalise.
Then came Rangers’ best two opportunities of the contest. First, Stephen Duke McKenna created space on the edge of the area before bringing a good save from Henry Popple. Minutes later, Armando Mema strode forward down the left before striking low for the far corner, only to be denied by Popple at full stretch, with William Kokolo on hand to clear up the scraps.
The game was an increasingly open, an Boro were soon back on the offensive. Malley slipped a clever ball through to Dijksteel, who controlled well on the turn in the area but blasted his shot over.
There was great work from Kokolo then Olusanya on the left to spring a counter attack, the latter delivering a cross to the feet of trialist Nicky Gyimah- Bio, who saw his shot charged down. Soon after, Coburn was also fed on the edge of the box but once more an Rs body was in the way of his shot.
Jeremy Sivi was next to go close, rolling his marker in the penalty box to collect a Sykes square pass but slicing harmlessly off target.
Joe Gibson and Harry Green were brought on to freshen up Boro’s attack, and the two combined instantly to send Gibson scurrying to the byline, but his cross hit the side netting.
Gibson played Coburn into space, but again the visitors got a foot in the way as he struck for goal. Green danced his way into the area and found Nelson with his pull-back, but the centre-back couldn’t get enough on his shot amid a crowd of blue and white shirts.
It looked as though Olusanya’s chance to win it had gone, when Gibson arrowed a cross his way which he glanced wide with his head.
But Boro kept battling, and the summer arrival from Billericay had his moment and took it with aplomb in time added on, latching onto a ball over the top and looping it over goalkeeper Little and into the net.