A bizarre own goal set Boro’s Under-23s on the road to victory under the lights at the Riverside.

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Bonham was guilty of the second half mishap – failing to trap a simple back-pass before letting the ball squirm under his foot – and Josh Coburn doubled the advantage before the final whistle.

The win was no less than Boro deserved after being the better side for much of the contest.

A decent Riverside crowd saw Graeme Lee’s side control the bulk of the first half without being able to convert their dominance into a goal.

Joe Gibson went close on a couple of occasions as did Connor Malley while a last-ditch tackle by Matthew Baker prevented Harry Green from squaring the ball back across the six-yard box to team-mates who were ready to pounce.

Returning striker Tyrese Campbell was in the Stoke side and he went closest in the first half after being fouled on the edge of the box when his free-kick called Max Metcalfe into action.

Boro almost snatched the lead early in the second period when Gibson switched to Cain Sykes and Green headed his cross back across goal, narrowly wide of the mark and with just too much on it for Coburn to get a foot on.

But the goal did come when Bonham made a hash of a routine back-pass, and that was the cue for Stoke to show a little more urgency about their play. Adam Porter sent a free-kick over the bar and Jack Hannah did well to deny Douglas James-Taylor with a great tackle.

Sam Folarin made his return from injury as a second half substitute and he fired just wide after showing good feet to work himself the opening, but it was the trusted figure of Coburn who doubled Boro’s advantage with 20 minutes remaining when he finished off some good attacking play with a firm strike.

Stoke did have a couple of opportunities to reduce the arrears as the clock ticked down, but they were unable to seriously trouble Metcalfe in the Boro goal.