JONATHAN WOODGATE’S first domestic outing as Middlesbrough head coach proved a winning one as his side secured a 3-1 win at Gateshead’s International Stadium.

Having lost their opening pre-season game in Austria last week, Boro claimed their maiden pre-season win against a Gateshead side that will be playing in National League North next season.

Jonny Howson opened the scoring after a defensive mix-up towards the end of the first half, and while Gateshead levelled at the start of the second period courtesy of Connor Thomson’s successful spot-kick, Fletcher lashed home shortly after the hour mark. Second-half substitute Marvin Johnson rounded off the win with a fine long-range strike with three minutes left.

Having been appointed as Tony Pulis’ successor last month, Woodgate set his side up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Howson lining up at right-back and Ryan Shotton partnering Aden Flint at centre-half.

Lewis Wing filled the defensive midfield role, with Marcus Tavernier playing alongside Paddy McNair behind lone striker Fletcher.

Fletcher wasted the first chance of the night as early as the third minute, shooting into the legs of Gateshead’s trialist goalkeeper after beating the offside trap, before youngster Stephen Wearn headed wide at the back post after a searching cross from Boro left-back Patrick Reading.

The visitors almost suffered an 11th-minute scare when JJ O’Donnell spotted Darren Randolph off his line after dispossessing Howson, but the Gateshead midfielder’s speculative shot from the halfway line drifted inches over the bar.

Gateshead, led by new player-boss Mike Williamson, are regrouping following their demotion to National League North, and all 11 of their currently contracted players were involved last night, along with a string of trialists, including former Hartlepool United centre-half Micky Nelson, hoping to earn a deal for the new campaign.

They threatened again towards the end of the first half, but Darren Randolph produced a fine low block after Heed full-back Scott Barrow burst into the box.

Boro went close when a sliding Fletcher narrowly failed to connect with Tavernier’s low centre from the left, and the visitors opened the scoring in scruffy fashion a minute before the break.

Gateshead’s keeper scuffed his clearance from a routine long ball over the top, and Howson was left with the simple task of rolling into an unguarded net from 35 yards.

Woodgate made four changes at half-time, with Bradley James replacing Randolph in goal, and Johnson, Djed Spence and George Saville coming on for Howson, Hayden Coulson and Paddy McNair.

But before the alterations had a chance to bed in, Boro were pegged back as Gateshead equalised from the penalty spot.

A failure to clear a corner resulted in a scramble in the box, and after Ryan Shotton was penalised for a foul on the edge of the six-yard box, Thomson calmly slotted home from the spot.

More Boro changes ensued, with Adam Clayton, Connor Malley and Luke Armstrong all coming on to the field, and the Teessiders regained the lead midway through the second half as Fletcher opened his pre-season account.

Clayton’s long ball released the striker into the penalty area, and he controlled neatly before hammering home.

Boro extended their advantage with three minutes left, with Johnson shuffling past two defenders before drilling home a 22-yard strike via the inside of the post.

Gateshead (4-5-1): Trialist; Nicholson, Lees (Nelson 46), Williamson, Barrow; Thomson, Oliver (Forbes 46), Agnew, Olley, O’Donnell; Preston (Trialist 25).

Middlesbrough (4-1-4-1): Randolph (James 46); Howson (Spence 46), Shotton (Stubbs 72), Flint (Wood 72), Reading (Dale 72); Wing (Clayton 64); Wearn (Malley 64), McNair (Saville 46), Tavernier (Armstrong 64), Coulson (Johnson 46); Fletcher (Gestede 72).