Paul Stephenson's side dominated possession in the Riverside sunshine for long stages of the first half.

United’s Nathan Harker was the first of the goalkeepers called into action, saving and eventually holding on to Stephen Wearne’s crisp half-volley from the edge of the area.

The Teessiders should have taken the lead on the 20-minute mark, Enes Mahmutovic finding himself unmarked at the back post from a Boro free-kick but unable to direct his header on target.

The lively Wearne was involved again ten minutes later, stealing possession from under Harker’s nose and producing a cute cut-back that Newcastle did well to clear.

Connor Malley struck wide with an arrowed first-time effort, and Tyrone O’Neill saw a couple of promising headers as Boro pressed for an opener.

Hayden Hackney drew a fine stop from Harker as the half wore on, Wearne denied in equally fine fashion by the United keeper from the rebound.

A keenly contested opening 45 minutes had as many cards as clear cut opportunities, Boro racking up four of five yellow cards.

Newcastle’s most promising foray forward ended in one of those yellows, Boro captain Paddy Reading chopping down Elias Sorensen on the break. The Magpies appealed for a red.

Boro goalkeeper Brad James was scarcely called upon, although there was a moment of doubt for the young stopper as his clearance was closed down by opposing forward Callum Roberts and spun wide.

Half-time: Boro U23s 0 Newcastle United 0

The home side began the second half in the ascendancy once more, Billal Brahimi sending a shot skidding past the post before O’Neill tested Harker with a low shot that was ultimately comfortable for the Magpies no.1.

If Boro had shaded the first half, Newcastle took control in the second, popping the ball around nicely and demonstrating their play-off credentials.

Brad James pulled off his first save of the match as he parried away a free-kick - the rebound just beyond the outstretched leg of an onrushing opponent.

Minutes later, a poor defensive clearance from Nathan Wood gave Newcastle the chance to take the lead, and James was rooted as Tom Allan drilled in the opener.

Boro rallied for an equaliser in the final ten minutes, a neat one-two between O’Neill and Brahimi effective in a tight area and almost resulting in Connor Malley free in the area for an easy finish.

The resulting corner brought a better chance still, Wood looking to redeem his earlier error with a header and follow-up both that were somehow kept out by Harker in close quarters.

A flourish from Djed Spence down Boro’s right allowed the full-back to produce a cross, drilled into the midriff of a Newcastle defender and referee David Richardson waved away Boro’s appeals for a penalty.

Goal: Allan 71

Boro U23s: James, Spence, Reading (c), Hackney, Wood, Mahmutovic, Malley, Wearne, Ward (Sykes 68), O'Neill, Brahimi. 
Unused subs: Brynn, Dale, Gibson, Balde.

NUFC U23s: Harker, Cass, Walters, Longstaff, Bailey (c), Watts, Allan (Young 82), Sangare, Sorenson (Bartlett 85) Roberts, Longelo (Cumbreras 56).
Unused subs: Sterry, Huuhtanen.

Yellow cards:
Boro: Wood 5, O'Neill 21, Malley 27, Reading 34
NUFC: Sorensen 21, Cass 88

Weather: Dry and bright

Attendance: 228