Boro return to winning ways in thriller at home to Witton
Six weeks after a dismal FA Cup defeat to the same opponents, Boro avenged that result, and also put the midweek derby loss at Whitby Town behind them, with a thrilling 3-2 win against Witton Albion, to claim only their second home win of the season.
Talisman Michael Coulson linked up with Nathan Cartman and Jake Day in a three-man strike force, James Cadman slotted in at right wing-bank in place of the injured Josh Barrett, and Kieran Weledji played at centre-back alongside Will Thornton.
The visitors, looking for a fourth successive win, made a dream start, going in front from their first attack on five minutes, when James Lawrie sent over a cross from the left, for Will Jones to strike a first time shot past Ryan Whitley.
Boro came back strongly, spraying the ball about and forcing Witton to fall back into defence.
Ryan Watson had a shot charged down, before the equaliser arrived on 13 minutes when a period of pressure culminated in Ash Jackson volleying through a crowd of players into the bottom right corner.
Soon after Boro should have taken the lead, as a long-range strike from Lewis Maloney was saved by Witton keeper Greg Hall, and the rebound fell to the feet of Day, who shot straight back into the keeper's arms.
After so many disappointing home displays this season, Boro really turned on the style, playing some delightful passing football.
Watson dragged a shot wide, then Cartman played the ball out wide to Cadman, who sent over a low cross into the box, and Day side-footed narrowly past the post.
The stylish Kieran Glynn flicked a pass over the Witton defence, and Day lobbed the keeper, with the ball dropping inches over the bar, although an offside flag would have foiled him had the ball gone in.
Boro deservedly took the lead in the 39th minute, as a Watson corner from the right, was palmed away by the keeper, but dropped to Lewis Maloney, who drilled a precise shot just inside the left hand post, then shortly before the interval another Maloney shot was safely gathered by keeper Hall.
Coulson headed straight at the keeper early in the second half, before Ryan Whitley made a stunning save to preserve Boro’s lead soon after, when a right wing corner from Danny McKenna was deflected towards goal, until Whitley dived to claw the ball away.
Boro continued to play some superb football, with Glynn showing some great touches, and he sent one pass through to Cartman, who raced past two defenders before his shot was tipped round the post for a corner, from which Cadman blasted a shot goalwards, but the ball cannoned off team mate Day.
Maloney was pulling the strings in midfield, and he sent a free kick to Cartman in the box, and the energetic striker struck his shot narrowly wide.
On 69 minutes Boro went 3-1 up when Cadman, who had a terrific game, sent a low pass into the area, and Michael Coulson diverted the ball just inside the far post.
Witton tried to get back into the game, with Jackson charging down a shot from Jawad Jebrin, then James Lawrie drove a free-kick into the Boro wall.
They reduced the arrears on 73 minutes after a long throw from the right fell to Callum Saunders, son of former Wales International Dean, who swivelled to slam home from just inside the area.
The visitors applied late pressure, but Boro defended superbly, with Thornton heading a couple of dangerous crosses clear, and Day also headed clear from a late Witton corner.
Boro’s last chance saw man of the match Maloney fire a long-range shot straight at the keeper.
At the final whistle, both sides left the field to enthusiastic applause after serving up a fantastic 90 minutes of entertainment.
BORO: Whitley, Cadman, Jackson, Maloney, Weledji, Thornton, Coulson (Heslop 73), Watson, Cartman, Day, Glynn
BORO MAN OF MATCH: Lewis Maloney.