Match: Middlesbrough U23 v Villa U23
Date: September 26, 2016
Competition: Premier League 2
Venue: Northern Echo Arena, Darlington
Weather: 13C, cloudy
Carlos De Pena (38 mins)
Keinan Davis (51mins)
Khalid Abdo (66 mins)
Goals from Khalid Abdo and Keinan Davis helped Villa come from behind to earn their second Premier League Two victory of the season at the Northern Echo Arena.
It was a highly competitive contest in what was Middlesbrough’s first ever U23 match at the venue.
There was a big let off for the Young Lions when Arnel Jakupovic met a rebound from Marcus Tavernier’s shot, found the back of the net only to be adjudged as offside.
Villa’s starting centre-back pairing of Jordan Lyden and Joonas Sundman looked solid and dealt with the Reds’ threat.
Boro took the lead on 38 minutes, though – the lively De Pena heading home direct from a corner kick.
Goalkeeper Viktor Johannson then produced a fine save from Callum Cooke’s close-range attempt after the forward had tricked his way into a shooting position and what a vital intervention it proved to be.
The visitors responded well and almost levelled before the break when Rushian Hepburn-Murphy’s brilliant 30-yard strike crashed off the crossbar.
Former Biggleswade man Davis showed his predatory instincts, converting Hepburn-Murphy’s cutback and drawing Villa level six minutes into the second half.
Abdo then turned the contest on its head, winning and converting penalty - Jordan McGhee committing the foul.
Villa could have increased their advantage – Hepburn-Murphy unfortunate to see efforts saved and edge over the bar while substitute Junior Mondal showed good skill to work his way past the visiting backline but fired over.
MIDDLESBROUGH U23: Pears, Johnson, Elsdon, McGhee, Tavernier, Morris, Morelli (Mondal 70), Tinkler (C) ((Pattison 66), Jakupovic, Cooke, De Pena. Unused subs: Fryer, McGoldrick, Wheatley.
VILLA U23: Johansson, Hale, Lyden (C) (Abdoul 61), Sundman, Leggett, Blackett-Taylor (Linley 82), O’Hare, Abdo, Davis (Doyle-Hayes 78), Hepburn-Murphy, Green. Unused subs: Idem.
Bryn Morris (Foul)
Callum Johnson (Foul)
Amel Jakupovic (Foul)
Referee: Martin Coy
Assistant referee 1: Lindsey Robinson
Assistant referee 2: Rebecca Welch
Fourth Official: Shane Sugden
*Picture by Tom Banks/MFC.