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Kick off 13:00 (UK)

14 January 2018 Venue Heritage Park Attendance Referee Daniel Middleton

Kick off 13:00 (UK)

Middlesbrough PL2
3 - 3
Blackburn Rovers PL2

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Match Reports

Report: Middlesbrough U23s 3 Rovers U23s 3

Goals from Callum Wright, Dan Butterworth and Scott Wharton not enough on Teesside

14 January 2018

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An barnstorming battle at the top of the table ended all square in a topsy-turvy encounter at Middlesbrough's Heritage Park.

The hosts put out a strong side with first team boss Tony Pulis watching on from the stands, with Ashley Fletcher, Marvin Johnson, Adam Clayton, Dael Fry and Marcus Tavernier all starting.

For Rovers, Lewis Travis and Willem Tomlinson - who have both been involved in the first team in recent weeks - started from the off, after Travis appeared for the final part of the win over Shrewsbury a day earlier and Tomlinson an unused substitute.

Joe Nuttall also started the game and played the full 90 minutes to get some further game time under his belt having come off the bench late on against the Shrews.

Things didn't begin well for Damien Johnson's side, who went behind inside the opening nine minutes after ex-West Ham and Manchester United striker Fletcher finished off a low George Miller cross and tucked beyond Andy Fisher to put the hosts a goal up.

Rovers battled back and were unlucky not to equalise after Joe Rankin-Costello saw a shot saved well from Aynsley Pears before Nuttall headed over the upright.

Fortunately, Rovers' pressure did earn them an equaliser as winger Callum Wright picked up the ball before drilling into the corner, giving Pears no chance just five minutes before half time.

And that equaliser quickly turned into Rovers taking the lead in first half injury time.

A goalmouth scramble eventually resulted in the ball falling to the feet of Dan Butterworth, who lashed home from close range to hand Rover the advantage going into the break.

Whatever was said in the Boro changing room at half time certainly worked as just two minutes into the second period, Johnson - a summer capture from Oxford United - expertly tucked home from a narrow angle to level the score.

But Rovers' heads didn't drop and skipper Scott Wharton led by example as he crashed home a header from close range on the hour mark to hand the visitors the lead once more.

But just moments later and the pendulum swung again as Boro forced another equaliser through Fletcher, who completed his brace by heading home from six yards out.

Both sides had chances to win the game but the scores stood and it's Middlesbrough who now top the division with that point, leapfrogging Reading and now sitting at the summit on goal difference.

Rovers, however, are still very much in contention and have a game in hand over the Teessiders, knowing that if they win it, they will be the table-toppers.

Johnson's troops are next in action at Cardiff City on Monday 22nd January, kick-off 1pm at Leckwith Athletics Stadium.

Boro: Pears; Mahmutovic (Tinkler, 73), Reading, Guedioura, Brewitt (c), Fry, Tavernier, Clayton, Fletcher, Miller (Armstrong, 67), Johnson (Coulson, 84). 

Unused substitutes: Hemming, Hegarty.

Rovers: Fisher; Travis, Grayson, Tomlinson, Platt (Ch. Doyle, 8), Wharton (c), Rankin-Costello, Hardcastle (Buckley, 61), Nuttall, Butterworth, Wright. 

Unused substitutesDillon, Evans, Mansell.

Referee: Daniel Middleton.

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