England Under-18 2 Austria Under-18 0 A CROWD of 2,306 watched England under-18s beat Austria at Victoria Park last night.

In preparation for next month's European qualifiers in Belarus, a Kevin Hacker own goal and an injury time free-kick from Daniel Drinkwater was enough to give England a deserved win.

The Young Lions produced a hatful of chances but could not find a way past the impressive Austria goalkeeper.

In 2004, a certain David Wheater scored the only goal of the game as the under-18s beat Scotland at Victoria Park.

And in 2006, Hartlepool United hosted its second international at the same level when France beat the Young Lions 2-0 in front of a crowd of 4,352.

Last night's game included two players from the North-East, Middlesbrough duo Jonathan Franks and Richie Smallwood.

Eighteen-year-old Franks, who has yet to appear for the Boro first-team, was handed a start on the right of midfield for England, while Smallwood was on the bench.

But it was the trickery of winger Medy Elito that ensured a perfect start for Brian Eastick's men as his cross was directed into the roof of the net by Hacker after just 16 minutes.

Manchester United striker Daniel Welbeck then saw his brilliant effort rebound off the bar after beating Austria goalkeeper Heinz Lindner to the ball.

On the stroke of half-time, Welbeck and Jordan Spence both came close to adding a second as England ended the half in the ascendancy.

Eastick made three changes at half-time, introducing centre midfielder Smallwood, while Franks was replaced by Wolves youngster Kyle Bennett.

Smallwood, who has started 15 games for Middlesbrough's Academy this season, was quick to impress.

The teenager was involved as Daniel Rose saw his closerange effort brilliantly saved by Lindner.

And then Rose drove left-footed narrowly wide of Lindner's goal from 20 yards out.

Austria captain Christoph Kropfl then brought a comfortable save out of substitute goalkeeper Mark Oxley.

But the save of the night belonged to Lindner when he showed excellent agility to push away Drinkwater's drive from the edge of the area.

But there was nothing Lindner could do about Drinkwater's brilliant set-piece in injury time, which sailed into the top corner.

ENGLAND: Amos (Oxley 46), Hoyte, Gosling (Smallwood 46), Ryan Bennett, Hills (Reid 68), Franks (Kyle Bennett), Spence, Drinkwater, Elito (Elliott 76), Welbeck, Rose (Chambers 68).

AUSTRIA: Linder, Hart, Hopfer (Tosun 46), Popp (Kobleder 46), Hacker (Obernosterer 46), Grasser (Schopf 46), Drazan, Krenn, Kelly, Kropfl, Elsneg (Derdak 64).