After seeing Jacob Hazel add another goal to his pre-season tally, Alun Armstrong praised his new signing’s habit of being in the right place at the right time.

Hazel netted in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough under-23s, though only a tap-in Armstrong believes it typified the forward’s goalscoring instinct.

His fifth goal of the summer came late in the second half, after fellow substitute Jack Lambert had teed him up, and Armstrong said: “We put Jack on close to Jacob and things started to happen. We created opportunities and Haze could probably have had a hat-trick.

“He was disappointed, but he keeps getting into the right areas, even if he misses he’ll just keep going. That’s what you like to see from a centre-forward and he’ll get goals.

“There was one today when the ball ricocheted and fell to him, he just seems to be in there at the right time.

“If you’re between the sticks in the penalty area you’ve got a chance of the ball dropping to you, and he has that lovely goalscorer’s habit of the ball finding him.”

Boro’s youngsters were comfortable winners, holding possession for long periods at Blackwell Meadows and winning after goals by Hayden Hackney and Josh Coburn.

But Armstrong pointed out his team were feeling the effects of a strenuous fitness session on Thursday in preparation for the first league a game a week on Saturday.

Boro went 1-0 ahead early on with a fine free-kick taken by Hackney, the standout moment from the deep-lying midfielder who was on loan at Scunthorpe United last season.

With Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder in attendance, Hackney put in an assured performance with some eye-catching passing.

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 before Hazel’s consolation.

“I’m disappointed with the result and the performance wasn’t at the level we have been recently, but there’s reasons behind that,” added Armstrong.

“We did a hell of a lot of work on Thursday night so they were really stiff today.

“We’ve got to make sure they’re fit for two weeks’ time. We got through it with no injuries, they worked their socks off and were dropping like flies at the end. That’s what you want because they’ve given everything, it’s all in the tank.”

Darlington are at Guiseley on Tuesday evening, and finish their friendly schedule at Whitby Town on Saturday (12.30pm).