It isn’t often that positives come flooding out of a defeat, but after Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss against Accrington Stanley, there was plenty to reflect upon.
Boro may ply their trade five divisions below Accrington, but they didn’t look hugely out of place on a plush Silver Royd pitch.
Accrington clearly had the edge on the night, as their quality oozed across the park, but the void expected was closed by Boro’s tenacity and dogged determination.
Former Accrington man Bryan Hughes and Paul Foot on the Boro bench went for a change in formation, with three across the back, wing-backs flanking three in midfield and the height of Tom Corner and Alex Peterson in attack.
There was also room on the bench for Edgehill defender Lloyd Henderson, who caught the eye in the weekend’s friendly against the Saturday League.
Both teams started at a swift pace, with the ball zipping neatly around the pitch.
The play swung from one end to the other in the opening minutes, before a moment of slackness gave the visitors an early present.
Keeper Ben White flapped at a cross and spilt the ball into the path of Billy Kee, who brilliantly flicked it into the back of the net.
White redeemed himself soon after with a good save from Marcus Carver, then the Accrington man drilled another shot into the side-netting.
Having had little possession in the Accrington half, Boro suddenly found some freedom in the final moments of the half, but they failed to take advantage.
Steve Mallory lifted an effort just over the bar, then Tom Corner’s free header from a low cross was diverted straight into the keeper’s arms.
That was that for the first half, but there was still plenty more to come after the break.
The highlights were few and far between, but the amount of substitutions and the temperature of the game soon began to rise.
The game reached boiling point mid-way through the half when Joel Dixon’s tackle on Accrington striker Adam Morgan resulted in a coming together. Both players were asked to leave the field of play.
In the meantime Josh Windass, the son of former Boro man and Hull City legend Dean, arrived on the pitch and the youngster played a big part in the final acts.
Windass dinked his first touch just over the Boro bar and then danced through a stream of challenges on the right before being felled in the box.
There was no wasting of time as Windass stroked home Accrington’s second from the spot.
Things quietened off in the final minutes, but the 311 fans were still treated to some confident passing from an Accrington side, who had clearly done their job.