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Byline: PHILIP TALLENTIRE

BORO made it two wins from two pre-season friendlies thanks to their 5-0 thrashing of Scottish minnows Dumbarton last night.

Gareth Southgate's new look line-up stepped up their preparation for the forthcoming Championship campaign on the banks of the Clyde against the reigning Scottish Division Three champions.

Unlike Saturday's 3-0 friendly win at Macclesfield, manager Gareth Southgate named a team that could closely resemble the XI that kicks off against Sheffield United a fortnight tomorrow.

Brad Jones made his first appearance of the summer after overcoming a shoulder injury. And, up front, Jeremie Aliadiere and Marvin Emnes linked up in a pairing that could well be seen throughout the early weeks of Boro's Championship promotion bid.

Despite being put through their paces at the club's training bolthole on the shores of Loch Lomond 20 minutes north of Dumbarton, the visitors were full of energy in the opening exchanges and took the lead with a wellworked fifth minute goal.

The move started on the left flank when Mark Yeates sent Emnes free with a wellweighted pass and, though the Dutchman lost possession, the ball fell to Didier Digard, who had the presence of mind to set up Gary O'Neil, and the midfielder slotted nonchalantly past keeper David McEwan.

Boro kept pressing after the goal and Southgate will have been pleased with the quality of the build-up play that preceded Julio Arca's ambitious 20-yard shot in the ninth minute, which the keeper comfortably saved.

Mark Yeates was looking lively down the left flank, but his radar was slightly off when he attempted an ambitious right-foot curling effort from the corner of the 18-yard box, which flew well wide of the goal.

Dumbarton were limited to rare breakaways, though they were presented with a golden opportunity just before the quarter hour mark when Jonathan Grounds and Jones collided accidentally on the edge of the Boro box. Though the ball fell free, the danger was cleared before the hosts could capitalise.

There was a worry for Southgate in the 28th minute when Digard limped off for treatment following a challenge on the halfway line, and three minutes later he had to be replaced in midfield by Josh Walker.

Seconds before the substitution, Boro had a wonderful chance to double their lead when O'Neil crossed from the right and picked out Emnes at the back post who selflessly set up Aliadiere, but the Frenchman screwed his shot wide from close range.

Boro again went close when Justin Hoyte attempted an ambitious, but off-target overhead kick near the penalty spot.

Then Yeates, who had switched to the right, picked out Emnes with a stunning cross. The alert striker chested the ball down on the edge of the six-yard box, but as he prepared to pull the trigger, McEwan dived at his feet to smother the striker.

In the 41st minute Boro went 2-0 up when Hoyte hit a speculative shot into the Dumbarton box from long distance the ball clipped defender Ross Clark to wrong-foot the keeper and end up in the back of the net.

To add insult to injury, on the stroke of half-time Clark was harshly adjudged to have fouled Hoyte inside the box and Aliadiere gratefully converted the resulting spot kick.

Southgate resisted the temptation to make wholesale half-time changes, but did replace Jones with Danny Coyne and introduced Jonathan Franks for Aliadiere.

The home supporters were pleased to see Dumbarton pressing early in the second half and Stevie Murray created some excitement with a direct free-kick that flew narrowly over the bar.

Yeates continued to be one of Boro's brightest attacking options and, from a tight angle near the dead ball line, lashed in a direct free kick from the left flank which the keeper did well to parry.

The flow of the game was interrupted by a series of second half substitutions by both managers but Boro finally increased their lead in the 69th minute when one of the newly introduced Adam Johnson, marked his first appearance of pre-season with a devastating run and ruthless shot into the Dumbarton net.

Southgate wanted to make sure that all of his squad tasted at least some of the action and made no fewer than half a dozen changes following his side's fourth goal.

It didn't do the visitors any harm, however, because they further extended their lead in the 74th minute when a corner from the right by Walker picked out Rhys Williams deep inside the penalty area.

The Australian international's header could only be helped into the net by Murray on the goal-line, who sliced his attempted clearance.

Match stats DUMBARTON: McEwan (White 75), Chisholm, Hodge (McNiff 56), Dunlop, Gordon, Clark (Chaplain 49), McStay (O'Donoghue 56), Geggan (Graham 75), Gribben (Hunter 64), Carcary (Brannan 64), Murray (McKillen 75).

BORO: Jones (Coyne 46), Hoyte (McMahon 70), Grounds (Taylor 70), Huth (Hines 70), Bates (Wheater 70), Digard (Walker 31), O'Neil (J Johnson 70), Yeates (A Johnson 63), Arca (Williams 70), Aliadiere (Franks 46), Emnes (Porritt 63).

Referee: Steven McClean. Match rating: 7/10.

Weather: Mild, dry. Shots on target: Dumbarton 0, Boro 10.

Shots off target: Dumbarton 1, Boro 3. Corners: Dumbarton 2, Boro 9. Offsides: Dumbarton 1, Boro 2. Fouls: Dumbarton 7, Boro 8. Bookings: None.

Sendings off: None. Goals: O'Neil 5mins, Clark (og) 41, Aliadiere (pen) 45, A Johnson 69, Williams 74.

Next match: On Saturday at Carlisle (friendly, 3pm kick-off).

VERDICT

GARETH Southgate will be delighted with an efficient 5-0 win over committed, but limited, opponents who were, in truth, outclassed by their English opponents. The Boro boss knows he faces far tougher tests in the coming days and weeks but winning is a good habit nonetheless.

CAPTION(S):

GOOD WORK-OUT: Justin Hoyte (above) and the Boro defence kept a clean sheet while Mark Yeates (right) was lively on the wing against Dumbarton last night
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jul 23, 2009
Words:978
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