DARLINGTON could take plenty of encouragement from their final friendly of the summer after they beat Middlesbrough’s under-23s.

Seven days before the season starts, Quakers played some good football in a thoroughly deserved 3-0 victory, enthusing supporters for the nine months ahead.

Not that there were many supporters present with the attendance being 357, many fans no doubt deciding against an afternoon in the rain.

However, those that stayed away missed out on Darlington’s best friendly performance this summer, one that manager Alun Armstrong was very pleased with.

He selected an almost full-strength side with Omar Holness being his only trialist, while Jamie Holmes was among the substitutes as he only returned from a holiday on Friday.

Holmes being on the bench meant on-loan Tyrone O’Neill was in the starting XI in the front-three, leaving Stephen Thompson to play on the left of midfield and Quakers’ captain missed a chance to score on 11 minutes when he had a penalty saved.

Awarded after Jarret Rivers had been tripped by Nathan Dale, Thompson’s penalty was saved by goalkeeper Zach Hemming, who had a spell on loan to Darlington last season.

In what was an impressive first 45 minutes from Darlington, Will Hatfield and Holness both had wayward efforts from outside the penalty area, and a trademark Thompson run, cutting inside from the wing, led to Hemming beating the ball away.

Thompson made a big impact and he set up the first goal on 28 minutes, getting to the byline and pulling the ball across where it was smartly turned home at close-range by Rivers with his heel.

On 34 minutes the nimble-footed Adam Campbell made himself a nuisance in the penalty area, and the ball broke kindly for O’Neill to beat Hemming for 2-0.

The best goal of the day was the third, summing up some of the football Darlington played.

It came four minutes into the second half, starting with Terry galbraith playing a long pass forward, Campbell and O’Neill both exchanged passes through the middle before Rivers was presented with a chance, and his calm finish made it 3-0.

The game lost some tempo on the hour when Darlington made four substitutions, among them Justin Donawa, Osagi Bascome, Holmes, and former Quaker Josh Heaton who played as a trialist and made an immediate positive impression.

Within seconds he blocked a shot by midfielder Ben Liddle, son of Craig, and then tackled Rumarn Burrell inside Quakers’ penalty area, preventing Chris Elliott from having to make a save.

The goalkeeper did not see much of the action, though he was almost beaten in the second half when Hayden Hackney let fly with an effort that thundered against the top of the crossbar.

Holmes and Donawa went close to scoring late as Darlington missed chance for a fourth goal.

Darlington: Elliott; Trotman, Laing (Heaton 60), Galbraith, Liddle; Holness (Holliday 73), Hatfield (Bascome 60), Thompson (Bell 73); Rivers (Donawa 60), Campbell (Tyrell 79), O’Neill (Holmes 60). Subs (not used): Wheatley, Hall (gk)

Middlesbrough: Hemming, Hood, Robinson, Liddle, Storey, Dale, Folarin, Hackney, Walker, Georgiou, Jones. Subs: Barni, Burrell, Wearne, Gibson, Sykes, Flatters