DESPITE a goal from Charlie Wyke Boro kicked off their Barclays U21 Premier League season with a close 2-1 defeat by Derby County at the iPro Stadium tonight.
Boro had a disastrous start, conceding a penalty after just 27 seconds when Atkinson brought down Calero. Santos scored from the resulting spot kick.
Just a few minutes later Ripley was called into action when making a smart save from Calero.
Boro should have equalised after nine minutes when Wyke sidefooted wide from an exquisite Andy Halliday cross.
The game was very open and chances were being created at both ends. Ripley had to come out smartly to deny Thomas while Kitching tried his luck from range but saw his shot go over the bar.
Derby doubled their advantage on 32 minutes through Kwame Thomas. Calero found himself in space on the left. Ripley came out to block but Calero chipped the ball to the far post where Thomas forced it in.
Boro, desperately needing a goal before half time, nearly got one five minutes from the interval. Bryn Morris strode forward and hit a piledriver from 25 yards, which Roos did well to tip over.
Half time: Derby County U21s 2 Boro U21s 0
Boro started the second half brightly and nearly pulled a goal back on 49 minutes through Andy Halliday, but his shot from a Bennett cross went just wide.
Callum Cooke was starting to cause the Derby defence problems with some surging runs, and one such one nearly brought a goal on 64 mins. He burst in from the left and laid it off to Morris whose low drive was well saved.
Boro pulled a goal back through Wyke on 73 mins, after a sizzling left wing run and cross from Bradley Halliday.
Paul Jenkins charges very nearly found an equaliser on 87 mins but Wyke saw his shot flash inches wide.
Boro: Ripley, Bennett, Burgess, Burn, B Halliday, Atkinson (Jones 65), Morris, Kitching, Wyke (c), Cooke, A Halliday (Warnett 86). Unused subs: Weledji, Coddington, Tinkler.
Derby: Roos, Hendrie (Guy 78), Lowe, Naylor, Rawson (c), Hanson, Santos, Koblenz, Thomas, Bunjaku, Calero. Unused subs: Cover, Morch, Vernam, McDonald
Boro MoM: Bradley Halliday impressed from left back and it was a great assist for Wyke's goal. However the award goes to Callum Cooke for his pace, trickery and persistence which troubled the Derby backline all night.