TWO Wilson Kneeshaw goals ensured Whitby Town lost out again in pre-season, after what manager Darren Williams called a “tired” showing against a young Middlesbrough side on Saturday.
The Championship club’s highly-rated youth set-up started strongly, passing the ball better and coming close early on when Kneeshaw’s header was deflected wide off Alex White’s right leg.
However, Town should have led themselves on 17 minutes when Tom Portas’ skidding 25-yard drive was spilled by keeper Luke Coddington, but Kev Burgess’ point-blank poke struck the crossbar.
Nathan Porritt, a former Boro youngster, curled a free-kick into the side-netting moments later, before the visitors led when Bruno Pilatos’ fine overlapping run down the right was followed by a driven cross to Curtis Edwards.
The young striker’s close-range far-post effort was blocked but only as far as Kneeshaw who slotted past Ben Escritt.
The 18-year-old marksman then missed a simple headed chance from another pinpoint Pilatos cross. But the same combination wasn’t to be denied, 11 minutes before the break. It was just as simple when the nimble Kneeshaw calmly exchanged passes with Pilatos, getting in between left-back and centre-half before beating the on-rushing Escritt.
The Seasiders did end the half strongly as Porritt’s awkward potshot, out of nothing, bounced in front of Coddington, who pushed the ball around his right-hand post.
At the other end, Jake Fowler’s acrobatic half-volley saw White again turn human shield as the ball thudded off last season’s player of the year and inches off target.
The final action of the first period saw Town threaten again as Porritt and the in-form Nathan Mulligan linked up down the right, with Portas then forcing Coddington to parry a low near-post drive.
Chances were at a premium after the break, though Kneeshaw should have completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark. The versatile striker first snatched at a first-time effort that he dragged across goal, then seconds later, Escritt’s legs denied him point-blank, as some Whitby players appeared to stop after their flimsy offside trap was breached.
All Town could offer in the second half were substitutions as boss Darren Williams introduced himself for Porritt and soon after, frontman Steven Snaith, who has impressed with his control and hold-up play, replaced the quiet Graeme Armstrong.
Then it was trialist for trialist as forward Ben Harmison came on for ex-Darlington winger Danny Lambert. Unfortunately Harmison’s slight frame again saw him struggle to make his mark and it was no surprise when Whitby’s neighbours put the result beyond doubt with 18 minutes remaining.
James Warnett (17) emphatically ended matters after slamming home a pristine volley from fellow substitute Jordan Jones’ right-wing centre.
The unlucky Escritt, beaten from three impossible situations, was one of the few in the Blues’ backline to emerge with any credit, as Edwards found himself ahead of another attempted offside move from Town’s defenders.
The returning Blues’ gloveman, who featured under Dave Logan six years ago, did enough one-on-one to make the hesitant frontman sidefoot wide.
Whitby Town: Escritt, Wilson, Robinson (c), Burgess, White, Portas, Lambert (Harmison 69), McTiernan, Armstrong (Snaith 63), Mulligan, Porritt (Williams 63). Subs not used: Campbell(GK). Attendance: 316.
Whitby Town 0 Middlesbrough XI 3