A DEFEAT to National League North opposition, and the worrying sight of summer signing Uche Ikpeazu hobbling straight down the tunnel after being fouled from behind in the second half. After an ideal week of pre-season preparations in Devon and Cornwall, it is safe to say Neil Warnock will not have enjoyed his return to the North.

Middlesbrough joined Newcastle United and Sunderland in failing to win at York’s new LNER Stadium in the last two weeks, but it was Ikpeazu’s inability to carry on after being clattered in the incident that led to a missed second-half penalty from Paddy McNair that will really have worried Warnock with the start of the Championship season just 11 days away.

The striker was feeling his left leg as he hobbled around the touchline, a concerning situation given the lack of attacking alternatives in Warnock’s squad. There is talk of a possible forward addition from Brazil in the shape of Flamengo’s Rodrigo Muniz, as well as ongoing interest in Rotherham’s Michael Smith. With the clock ticking, the need for another centre-forward is becoming increasingly acute.

Last night’s game also highlighted the current lack of options at left-back. Djed Spence was a round peg in a square hole with Marc Bola unavailable, and assuming that Hayden Coulson, missing once again last night, completes his much-mooted move to Ipswich Town, Boro will surely have to bring in another left-back before the transfer window closes.

They have already made five signings this summer, a tally that could rise to six or seven if free agents Jamie Paterson and Sol Bamba are tied up to permanent deals.

Having featured against Plymouth last Friday, Paterson made his second Boro appearance in the first half of last night’s game, although his lack of impact was hardly a glowing endorsement of his qualities. On this evidence, the jury would have to remain out. Bamba played for the final 26 minutes, and didn’t take long to introduce himself as he just about snapped a York trialist in half with virtually his first challenge of the night. He certainly looks the part when it comes to a stereotypical Warnock signing.

Middlesbrough’s best player for most of last night’s game was summer signing Matt Crooks, whose driving runs into the area provided the kind of goalscoring threat that was missing on countless occasions last season. The former Rotherham midfielder missed a golden opportunity in the first half when he glanced a free header wide, but his willingness to break into the box was a key facet of Boro’s attacking.

The visitors also threatened via set-pieces, with Fry opening the scoring in the sixth minute as he headed home McNair’s free-kick from the right touchline.

At that stage, it looked like being a comfortable night for the Teessiders, but York equalised midway through the first half, with former Newcastle trainee Mackenzie Heaney firing home a first-time volley after Fry’s defensive header only just cleared the penalty area, and claimed the lead five minutes before half-time as beanpole striker Mark Beck stole in front of his marker to glance home Akil Wright’s cross.

Boro should have claimed a second goal of their own shortly before the hour mark, but after Ikpeazu was fouled, McNair saw his penalty saved by Peter Jameson. That was a shame, but it was nothing compared to the alarming sight of Ikpeazu limping off.

Middlesbrough (5-3-2): Lumley (Stojanovic 64); Dijksteel (Robinson 64), Hall (Bamba 64), Fry (Peltier 64), McNair (Wood 64), Spence; Crooks (Coburn 64), Howson (Malley 64), Morsy (Hackney 64); Paterson (Jones 46), Ikpeazu (Akpom 61).