MIDDLESBROUGH’S pre-season is up and running – although probably not in the way that Michael Carrick planned. Hartlepool United, however, will be more than satisfied with their early summer work.

Pools ran out deserved 2-1 winners over their North-East neighbours at the Suit Direct Stadium this evening, with first-half goals from Emmanuel Dieseruvwe and David Ferguson enlivening a game that was played in wet and windy conditions more akin to December than July.

Not that the hosts will be complaining, with the victory over Championship opposition having provided a welcome morale boost after the despair of last season’s relegation from the Football League.

Boro will hardly be panicking with the start of the new season still three weeks away, but the failure of the club’s youngsters to make much of an impression against non-league opposition will still have been something of a disappointment.

Middlesbrough’s starting line-up did not contain any of the club’s six summer signings – perhaps some will be involved when Michael Carrick names a completely different line-up at York City tomorrow afternoon – but there was a decent smattering of experience in the side with Dael Fry partnering Paddy McNair at centre-half, Hayden Hackney patrolling the heart of midfield and Riley McGree and Marcus Forss playing off either flank.

There were also a handful of youngsters getting an early pre-season opportunity to impress Carrick, but none really took their chance. George Gitau, a Kenyan 19-year-old who was recruited from Brighton three summers ago, played at right-back, and was in the wars from an early stage as Pools’ more experienced players showed him no mercy. Bryant Bilongo, who made his first-team debut in the League Cup last season, started on the left of the back four, with Terrell Agyemang, a 20-year-old Londoner who signed from Manchester City earlier this summer, partnering Hackney in midfield.

Agyemang was probably the pick of the youngsters, sweeping up at the base of midfield and looking to break forward whenever possible, but for the whole of the evening, it was Hartlepool’s players rather than Middlesbrough’s that looked poised and assured in possession.

John Askey is attempting to assemble a squad that can bounce back at the first time of asking following last season’s relegation to the National League, and while pre-season matches can be notoriously unreliable indicators, the early signs provided by last night’s game are undoubtedly positive.

Pools scored twice inside four minutes midway through the first half, with both goals the result of slick interplay inside the Boro box. Chris Wreh, son of former Arsenal double winner Christopher, was the architect of the first, slipping the ball between Fry’s legs before squaring across the face of the goalmouth for his fellow forward, Dieseruvwe, to stab home.

The second was the result of equally neat passing on the opposite side of the area involving trialist Anthony Mancini – a 22-year-old midfield free agent, who was previously on the books of Burnley - with unmarked wing-back Ferguson eventually slotting a first-time finish past Liam Roberts.

With Sonny Finch and Jeremy Sivi struggling to get into the game, Boro’s main threat came from McGree, with the Australian creating space in the area midway through the first half before drilling in a shot that Joel Dixon saved with his legs.

He forced another decent save out of the Pools keeper with a free-kick from close to the touchline that threatened to creep in at the near post.

Boro's consolation goal came in the 90th minute, with substitute Ajay Matthews profiting from a mix-up in the Hartlepool defence.

Hartlepool (5-3-2): Dixon (Jameson 46); Paterson, Dodds, Dolan (Burton 46), Pruti, Ferguson (Ndjoli 46); Wallace (Hastie 46), Cooke (Trialist 46), Trialist; Dieseruvwe (Grey 46), Wreh (Crawford 46).

Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Roberts, Gitau (Lennon 60), Fry (Hannah 89), McNair, Bilongo; Agyemang, Hackney (Bridge 81); Forss (Simpson 73), Sivi (Stott 90), McGree (Cartwright 81); Finch (Matthews 60).