Another pre-season game, another goal for summer signing Jacob Hazel.

He continued his impressive run by scoring for the fifth time in friendlies, form Quakers will hope continues when the real action begins in a fortnight, but it was only a consolation today as Darlington suffered a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough under-23s.

Boro’s youngsters controlled much of the contest at Blackwell Meadows, going ahead early on with a fine free-kick taken by Hayden Hackney.

The goal was the standout moment from the deep-lying midfielder, on loan at Scunthorpe United last season, who put in an assured performance with some eye-catching passing.

Boro also fielded Hayden Coulson and Josh Coburn, two players with first-team experience, and their goal was rarely troubled before the break, almost going 2-0 up but a free-kick hit the post with Lucas Martin beaten.

Martin played the entire match with Tommy Taylor rested, while Jack Lambert and Hazel were among the substitutes.

Jarret Rivers wasted a good opportunity before the break. Played in by Marcus Maddison, who played the first 45 minutes, Rivers’ first touch was fine, but the shot was wide of goal.

At half-time, Alun Armstrong withdrew Mark Beck and Maddison, sending on Lambert and Hazel.

Coburn, who scored a winning goal against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup last season, made it 2-0 on 64 minutes with a composed finish, though what would have been the moment of the match then followed, only to be ruled out by the referee.

David Wheater went for goal when he took a free-kick five yards inside his own half, the ball finding the net with impressive accuracy from the veteran centre-back, but the referee said he had taken it too quickly.

Darlington deserved a goal for their second half play having opened Boro up a few times, a poor touch seeing Hazel fail to make the most of an opportunity when Lambert played a ball over the top.

But the pair combined again late on and a tap-in saw Hazel pull one back at close-range after a Lambert pass following Wheater’s cross-field pass.

Darlington’s next friendly is on Tuesday at Guiseley, now managed by Danny Ellis, and they are at Whitby Town next Saturday (12.30pm).