Under-23s: Manchester United 2 Middlesbrough 0
Manchester United's Under-23s returned to winning ways, following a largely barren run of late, with this victory at Leigh Sports Village Stadium in front of 787 fans on Friday evening.
It was a closely fought contest and Middlesbrough could count themselves unlucky in the minutes before half-time when, with a little more accuracy, they may have gone in at least on level terms.
Having started the season with an encouraging sequence of eight undefeated games, the Reds have recently been suffering something of blip with just one point being secured from the most recent trio of fixtures prior to this one. The last outing at Leigh Sports Village Stadium had ended with the shock result of the campaign so far being recorded with Newcastle United running out 4-1 winners.
The early attacking was a feature of United’s game and, in the seventh minute, their positive opening was rewarded when Dearnley fired past Boro keeper Bradley James.
Dan Ward then fired over for Boro and in the countdown to the half-time break, their main striker, Stephen Walker, could have found the net a sufficient number of times to have claimed the match ball.
Instead, United doubled the lead two minutes into the first half’s added time when Hamilton’s low shot took a slight deflection before nestling in the net behind substitute keeper Zach Hemming’s net. James, Boro’s first-choice stopper, had been helped from the field with an injury just a few minutes beforehand.
The closest we came to a goal after the break was when Boro's no.9 Walker spurned another chance by heading against the post, but nevertheless the Reds, now in second place behind Reading in Premier League 2, were still worthy winners.
United: Kovar; O’Connor, Poole, Williams R-S., Warren; Whelan, Hamilton, Barlow (Gomes 73); Chong, Dearnley, Bohui (Burkart 75).
Substitutes not used: Tanner, Fojticek, Ercolani.
Goals: Dearnley 7, Hamilton 45.