Middlesbrough FC

Middlesbrough FC
Grant Leadbitter skippered Boro last night

Young Middlesbrough side rocked by Rochdale’s impressive fightback

Grant Leadbitter skippered the Boro side as boss Tony Pulis took the chance to give more of his squad welcome pre-season action.

Boro were in front in the 13th minute after good work from Lewis Wing on the left flank, before he sent over a fine cross for unmarked ex-Sunderland loanee Ashley Fletcher to head home.

Harry Chapman shot over Rochdale’s bar before Britt Assombalonga was denied by a fine Josh Lillis save after a lightning quick Boro break.

Lillis keput out another Assombalonga effort before Chapman doubled the lead early in the second half, firing low into the net after an inch-perfect ball from Fletcher.

Rochdale got one back in the 68th minute as Calvin Andrew rose to head home a right-wing cross.

Brad Inman equalised from close range on 85 minutes, then League One Dale snatched victory in the final minute, with Oliver Rathbone converting at the second attempt after a fine save by sub keeper Connor Ripley.

Boro first-team coach Jonathan Woodgate told mfc.co.uk: “I don’t like losing, my message in the dressing room was as simple as that.

“Friendly game or not, we need that winning mentality.

“It’s a big lesson for me and it’s a big lesson for the younger players.

“You can be the best player on the pitch for 86 minutes, but you make one mistake and you can be the worst – that’s what some of the younger players need to learn.

“They need to learn it quickly because when they do start going out on loan, it’s a man’s game and it’s totally different. But there were some excellent performances as well.”

Boro’s final friendly is at home to Sunderland on Friday.

Rochdale: Lillis, Ntlhe, McGahey, Williams, Andrew, Williams, Thompson, Perkins, Adshead, Cannon, Henderson. Subs: Rafferty, McNulty, Camps, Rathbone, Wilbraham, Inman, Finnerty, Morley, Wade, Gillan.

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos (Ripley 46), Mahmutovic, Wood, Fry, Johnson, Leadbitter, De Sart (Liddle 81), Wing (Pattison 67), Fletcher (Walker 74), Chapman (Cooke 60), Assombalonga (Spence 80). Sub: Braithwaite.

Att: 909

Middlesbrough FC
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