Scarborough Athletic’s North Riding FA Senior Cup adventure came to a frustrating end on Tuesday night at the hands of a youthful Middlesbrough.
In a game that Boro spent much of their time controlling, two slips proved so costly, allowing Middlesbrough the opportunity to progress into a final showdown against Guisborough.
This wasn’t the most thrilling of contests, with a gusting wind levelling up the intricacy of Middlesbrough and the guile of Boro.
There was still enough to warm a sparse crowd of 180 warm on a very chilly evening.
The Teesside club may not have fielded their first team, but their under-21s have been equally as successful this season, as they currently lead the way in their respective Premier League youth division.
From the word go Boro wisely used heavy-handed tactics to give Middlesbrough a challenging introduction into the mens’ game.
This shook up the youngsters in the opening moments, though they always looked sharp and lively on the break.
It was Boro who created the better openings in the early exchanges, with Ryan Blott flicking a header into the hands of keeper Luke Coddington and then Alex Metcalfe having a shot held.
So it was hugely disheartening for the hosts when they fell behind after 15 minutes.
Thomas McAloon’s darting run beat the offside trap or the linesman’s gaze and he cut back for Callum Cooke to roll into the net.
It took Boro just 10 minutes to restore parity and it was through an equally incisive move.
Danny Clayton slipped his defender on the left and whipped in a ball that Blott stabbed home at the near post.
The action was limited after this, though there was still chance for Jimmy Beadle to watch his shot from distance sail into the keeper’s arms, minutes before Blott’s low drive was stopped by the impressive Coddington.
The new half signalled a dip in quality as the game descended into an error-strewn slog.
Middlesbrough created the odd bright moment, but their trait of misplacing the killer pass came to Boro’s rescue.
In contrast, the visitors seemed to have the decisions of the referee on their side, as Mr Greenwood twice waved away penalty protests that would have been granted on another day.
In the end it was one decision that cost Boro with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
Sub James Bennett’s pass was cut out in the middle of the park and Middlesbrough broke at pace.
Joao Morelli cut inside Ben Middleton and bent brilliantly home off the post.
Boro abandoned caution from here and opted to toss the long-ball into the MIddlesbrough box.
This ploy may have produced a number of worrying moments, but Middlesbrough survived the barrage and maintained their cup ambitions.
In contrast, Boro must now focus wholly on hauling their Evo-Stik North campaign back onto the tracks.