Middlesbrough U23 v Southampton B, Sunday 29th August 2021, 12 noon.

After staying overnight in Wylam after Paul’s party, Jen and I called in on a game on our way home. It was at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park and featured Boro’s under 23 team in a Premier League 2 fixture against Southampton’s B team. I’ve no idea about the age-related rules in that league but suffice to say that they could both be considered to be development teams.

It was three quid admission, although if I’d had Tom’s season card with me I could have got in for nothing. There were no programmes and initially no teamsheets, although some did turn up before kick-off. A bloke in a jacket wouldn’t let us into the stand. That must have been earmarked for club officials and so we got a coffee and sat at the benched tables further along the touchline for a while.

As the wind picked up we moved behind the goal to a covered stand that offered a little more protection. I’d estimate that there were around a hundred spectators and another fifty or so in the stands in some sort of official capacity. I had a brief look over to see if I could see Neil Warnock but if he was there, he was keeping a low profile.

From the Boro’s point of view I thought Hayden Hackney looked composed in midfield and one of the centre halves had a good game. Unfortunately I can’t remember which one. Perhaps both of them did ok. Martin Payero was playing but if I didn’t know he was our new South American superstar he wouldn’t have registered with me. I’ve a feeling that he might be more of a de Pena than a Marinelli.

I thought the Boro’s best player was Jeremy Sivi. He opened the scoring with good finish from a Ste Walker pull back and then nearly scored again after twisting and turning in the box to evade a few defenders only to see his shot well saved.

Boro kept the lead until about five minutes from the end when someone tapped a Southampton ankle for a pen. Brad James who had looked solid throughout was given no chance of repeating his Hartlepool play-off heroics but fortunately Boro went straight back up the other end and won a penalty of their own. There was a similar blam into the net to give us a 2-1 win.

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