WHATEVER else he goes on to achieve in his career, Josh Coburn will never forget his 11th minute as a professional footballer.

He’ll always be able to recall the sense of anticipation as Neeskens Kebano prepared to swing over a cross from the right. He’ll instantly remember the crispness of the contact as his head propelled the ball goalwards from the edge of the six-yard box, and the nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach as, for a split-second, it looked like his effort was going to hit the outside of the post. And, of course, he’ll forever be reliving the euphoric moment when he wheeled away celebrating his first senior goal.

This has been a difficult week for English football, but on Teesside at least, the game was able to provide a timely reminder of its magic. A local 18-year-old, born and raised in Richmond and a member of Middlesbrough’s academy since the age of 16, when he switched from Sunderland, making a lifetime dream come true. Who needs a Super League when you can serve up moments like that?

“It’s a very proud moment,” said Coburn, who studied at Richmond School and Sixth Form College before going full-time with Boro. “I’ve just got to thank the gaffer for it. To come on and score for Middlesbrough’s first team is just amazing, it’s what dreams are made of really.

“It’s been madness. At the start of the season, I was with the Under-18s and I just thought I would work hard from there. The gaffer gave me the opportunity to come with the first team and I trained as hard as I could. I thought I did well in training, and the gaffer must have thought that to give me the opportunity. It’s all gone so fast. Everything’s moving so fast. I was with the Under-18s, then the Under-23s and now obviously the first team. It’s what you want really. It’s just been an amazing season so far.”

The rate of Coburn’s progression has certainly been remarkable, and by blooding both the teenage striker and his fellow academy product, Connor Malley, in the last couple of matches, Neil Warnock has ensured that a season that was petering out to nothing has served up two of its most memorable moments in the dying embers.

Any club can take justifiable pride in the sight of one of its academy products progressing to the first team, but at Middlesbrough, long lauded as one of the most successful breeding grounds in the country, youth development truly is an integral part of the club’s DNA.

Dave Parnaby was the founding father of the club’s academy success, but current academy boss Craig Liddle has built on his predecessor’s good work to the extent that there is tangible excitement right across the club at the prospect of what the current crop of youth players might go on to achieve.

Malley and Coburn have hogged the headlines this week, but Hayden Hackney had his moment in the sun when he made his senior debut in January’s FA Cup tie at Brentford and there is a good chance Jack Robinson and William Kokolo, unused substitutes at the weekend, could be given some game time in the remaining two matches of the season.

“I think it looks really promising for six to 12 months’ time that we’ve got lads coming through,” said Warnock. “At the moment, we can’t expect these lads to do this week in, week out - not in the Championship. But when you get some games under your belt and you’re physically stronger, then you have a chance.

“There’s a few more in the academy coming through as well, not just those two (Coburn and Malley). There’s as many as six who could come on really strong in the next 12 months.”

Coburn got his opportunity in the 65th minute of Saturday’s game, with Boro having lost their way somewhat after a reasonably bright start.

Yannick Bolasie’s 20th-minute strike had opened the scoring, but Josh Windass fired Sheffield Wednesday level from the spot after Marc Bola tripped Andre Green and the Owls striker wasted an excellent opportunity to fire his side into the lead when he side-footed wide at the start of the second half.

Coburn replaced Chuba Akpom, who had failed to ask any serious questions of the Wednesday defence, and while there is an understandable rawness to his play, the teenager immediately unsettled the equilibrium of the Owls’ backline.

“I was going to put Josh on a bit earlier, but Blacky (Kevin Blackwell) said, ‘It’s a bit physical’,” said Warnock. “But ten minutes later, I thought, ‘Sod it, there’s nothing to lose.

“He battled well. He won all of his headers. It wasn’t just his goal, was it? He was determined and you could see how much desire he has.”

Coburn’s header restored Boro’s advantage, and a second win in the space of four days was secured when Duncan Watmore stabbed home his eighth goal of a personally-productive season with nine minutes remaining after Bolasie’s header from a corner had been blocked.

"It’s pleasing to get two wins on the bounce because it’s never easy to do that in the Championship," said Warnock. "Now, we want to go to Luton and get a result. Let's finish with a bit of a bang."