Middlesbrough Under-23s 0 Newcastle United Under-23s 2
- Andrew Miller
Newcastle United Under-23s kept their Premier League 2 play-off hopes alive with an important 2-0 victory against ten-men Middlesbrough on Friday night.
Second half strikes from Elliot Anderson and Tom Allan were the difference as the young Magpies came out on top in the division two encounter at Heritage Park, with Middlesbrough reduced to ten men in stoppage-time following Nathan Wood's dismissal.
Ahead of the Tyne-Tees meeting, United's second-string were searching for a fifth successive win in all competitions whilst Middlesbrough were looking to take their unbeaten run to six matches.
Chris Hogg's side began the brightest of the two teams and almost took an early lead through the lively Anderson.
After clever work from Liberia international Mo Sangare, the midfielder's ball from the byline found Anderson but the Scot's first-time effort was straight at Boro goalkeeper Dejan Stojanovic.
Middlesbrough's Tyrone O'Neill took his turn in front of goal as the Boro skipper controlled a high pass on the edge of the penalty area before his vicious half volley was sent wide of the post.
Goalkeeper Jake Turner continued his impressive form in between the sticks as the Wilmslow-born shot-stopper, who had kept three clean sheets in his previous four games, produced a crucial fingertip save to deny Mitchell Curry.
After the Middlesbrough forward picked the ball up inside the penalty area, Curry's curling effort was pushed around the post by Turner.
Newcastle controlled the majority of play in the closing stages of the first half and were unfortunate not to head into the break with a lead as Anderson sent a dangerous, low effort wide of the far post before defender Liam Gibson went agonisingly close to netting his first goal of the 2019/20 campaign with an identical strike to Anderson's former, drilling a fierce drive wide of the target.
In the second half, United deservedly broke the deadlock through Anderson's 56th minute opener. After Oisín McEntee's lofted cross from the byline found the teenage forward, Anderson controlled the ball inside the penalty area before calmly drilling the ball past Stojanovic.
In the 64th minute, United doubled their advantage through Allan's 17th goal of the season. Anderson turned from goalscorer to provider as the Scotland under-18 international threaded a neat through ball into Allan's path, who raced forward before cooly tucking the ball into the far corner.
Turner helped maintain United's two-goal lead with a key stop to deny Boro's Harry Green after the substitute's speculative strike from distance forced the former England under-19 international into diving low to block the shot before smothering the loose ball.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time, the hosts were then reduced to ten men as Wood received a straight red card in the dying stages. After Yannick Touré was allowed to raced through on goal, the Senegalese-born striker was brought down by the defender, resulting in a red card seconds before the full-time whistle.
The win for Chris Hogg's side narrows the gap between the final play-off spot to one as the young Magpies aim to reach the qualification rounds for a consecutive season after reaching the play-off final last term.
Newcastle United Under-23s: Jake Turner, Lewis Cass, Ludwig Francillette, Oisín McEntee, Liam Gibson, Jack Young (Kyle Scott 84), Mo Sangare, Tom Allan, Rosaire Longelo (Adam Wilson 70), Elliot Anderson (Victor Fernández 81), Yannick Touré.
Subs not used: Will Brown.
Photograph courtesy of Tom Banks/MFC