A late flurry from the home side ensured Boro’s trip to FC Heidenheim ended in defeat – but Jonathan Woodgate was able to give his players extended game-time as the countdown continues towards the start of the new season.
The game was a good test for Boro and also saw a first encounter with the VAR system.
Both sides had goals ruled out by the video assistant referee during an opening period that was played in horrendous conditions and also featured a cracking strike in the wrong goal from Heidenheim defender Marnon Busch.
With Woodgate opting to utilise his squad to the full, this was the second game of the day for Boro, following on from a 7-1 win at Bishop Auckland earlier in the afternoon.
Despite temperatures of nearly 30 degrees, the game kicked off in a storm of biblical proportions with torrential rain making the conditions very tricky to say the least.
Tomas Mejias made an early save for Boro and Paddy McNair tried his luck from distance, but the deadlock was broken inside 20 minutes when Busch somehow sent a loose ball beyond the reach of his goalkeeper after some great skill by Rudy Gestede.
Both McNair and Patrick Reading showed good vision to pick out Ashley Fletcher as Boro looked to build on the lead, but the hosts appeared to have drawn level when David Otto struck the ball home.
That goal was belatedly chalked off, though, with the surprise intervention of VAR, leaving both sides and the crowd looking bemused. More baffling and equally belated, came VAR’s second involvement of the game when Gestede appeared to have doubled Boro’s advantage with a looping header. Once again, VAR spotted an offside and the goal was ruled out.
VAR had no such impact in the second period, though, as the hosts went on to turn the scoreline around. Looking sharper than in the opening 45 minutes, Heidenheim posed more of a threat, and they were back onlevel terms when Robert Glatzel smashed the ball home from close range.
Minutes later, it was 2-1, Glatzel again converting, this time after a cross from the left, and it was 3-1 shortly after when Timo Beerman arrived at the far post to head home a corner to effectively put the result beyond doubt.
There was more to come from the hosts and Koija Pusch added a fourth goal before Glatzel completed his hat-trick in the final minute.
Heidenheim: Eicher, Busch, Mainka, Schnatterer, Thomalia, Multhaup, Griesbeck, Otto, Theuerkauf, Beermann, Dorsch. Subs: Ramaj, Steurer, Husing, Glatzel, Sessa, Fohrenbach, Biankadi, Pusch, Feick, Strauss, Brandle, Reithmeir, Owusu, Kilic.
Boro: Mejias, Howson, Ayala (Wood 63), Shotton, Reading (Stephenson 80), McNair, Wing (Spence 79), Saville, Fletcher, Gestede (Jones 81), Tavernier. Subs: Dale, Wearne, Hemming.
Referee: P Muller