Harrogate Railway stepped up their pre-season preparations on Thursday night as they suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough Under 21s.
Lee Ashforth’s side defended resolutely for large periods of the contest in which they were made to work hard without the ball by a very talented opposition.
Goals from Cutts, Jakupovic, Mark Kitching and Jowers ensured the 2014/15 Barclays U21 Premier League Second Division Champions recorded an emphatic win at Station View.
The opening goal came midway through the first half as Jakupovic found space inside the Railway area and sent a powerful shot towards Tom Goodwin, who beat away the attempt, only for Cutts to sharply follow up and give Middlesbrough the lead.
The battle between Jones and Railway right-back Gregg Kidd was enthralling throughout the opening 45, with Jones’ pace and trickery matched with some well-timed tackles and interceptions.
Railway continued to battle and limit the opposition’s clear cut chances, with Ryan Sharrocks work rate evident down the left hand side, before a quick-fire double in the closing stages of the half gave ‘Boro a commanding lead.
First of all, Jakupovic found the back of the net before Jones’ low corner caught Rail’s defence off guard; finding Kitching inside the penalty area who burst past his marker and sent a low strike into the far corner.
The second half saw a multitude of changes for Railway and started brightly for the hosts as Dan Barrett sprinted in behind the ‘Boro defence only to be brought down yards outside the box.
Approaching the hour mark, Tom Goodwin was required to make an outstanding low save while Harrogate threatened at the other end, again through Barrett who connected sweetly with a volley on the edge of the area; stinging the hands of Luke Coddington.
Roy Fogarty, introduced at the half, was a constant threat in behind Middlesbrough’s defenders and on another occasion could have won the hosts a penalty after his marker appeared to handle the ball while stopping Fogarty progressing into a dangerous position.
Railway’s second half defensive unit of Alex Jones, Simon Wood, James Beeston, Jordan Outerbridge and Goodwin were extremely difficult to break down with Beeston executing an impressive last ditch tackle and Goodwin making a series of important saves.
With two minutes left to play, Railway almost got reward for their efforts as Fogarty was given a chance to shoot following a mazy run by Cameron Lynn and an incisive pass from Dan Thirkell, however the striker’s shot was well blocked.
Jowers eventually put the icing on the cake for the visitors with a well-placed finish in the 90th minute, although Ashforth and his management team will no doubt take positives from Railway’s second half display.
Harrogate Railway (first half): Goodwin, Kidd, Hunter, Mycoe, Low, Stockdill, Frankland, Sharrocks, Lynn, Dhesi, Clamp
(Second half): Goodwin, Lee, Thirkell, Barrett, Sharrocks (Lynn, 75), Jones, Wood, Beeston, Parkes, Outerbridge, Fogerty
Middlesbrough U21’s: Coddington, Bennett, Halliday, Elsdon, Kitching, Tinkler, Cutts, Johnson, Jakupovic, Joao, Jones
Subs: McGinley, McGoldrick, Wheatley, Chapman, Mondal, Jowers, Fryer
Goals: Cutts 25, Jakupovic 44, Kitching 45, Jowers 90
Referee: A. Bannister