YORK City came within two minutes of claiming the scalp of Premier League visitors Middlesbrough at KitKat Crescent last night.

Goals by young strikers Adam Boyes and Onome Sodje had cancelled out an early second-half effort by Jonathan Franks.

But England squad member David Wheater pounced on 88 minutes to ensure honours ended even in an entertaining pre-season encounter.

Middlesbrough included six full internationals for the match with Afonso Alves (Brazil), Robert Huth (Germany), Emanuel Pogatetz (Austria) playing the first 45 minutes.

England’s Stewart Downing and Egyptian summer signing Mohammed Shawky then entered the action after the interval, while Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones was between the sticks for the whole match.

The Minstermen’s defence, marshalled impressively by Boro fan David McGurk, kept Alves and former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere off the scoresheet in a goal-less first half.

Alves, though, saw a thumping 35-yard free-kick pushed round an upright by City ’keeper Michael Ingham after just five minutes.

Three minutes later, Craig Farrell forced a back-pedalling Jones to tip over his crossbar after Darren Kelly had nodded the ball towards him following a Ben Purkiss free-kick from the right flank.

Another Farrell effort – from a 35-yard free-kick – also required a strong two-fisted save from the Boro ’keeper.

Alves – Europe’s 2007 Golden Boot runner-up – then went close from a similar distance with a strike that dipped late after Kelly had upended Adam Johnson.

On 43 minutes, a Kelly misjudgement on the right flank let in Johnson, whose low cross was sidefooted wide by Alves.

City’s midfield new boys Niall Henderson and Ben Wilkinson combined to release Farrell but his low drive lacked the power to beat Jones at his near post.

Home boss Colin Walker made just one change at half-time, introducing Woolford for Simon Rusk, while Gareth Southgate chose to replace all his outfield players and, unsurprisingly, the visitors looked the fresher outfit at the restart.

Within a minute, Shawky threaded a perfectly-weighted through ball inside a flat-footed Purkiss and Downing delivered a routine cross that provided Franks with a two-yard tap-in.

Nathan Porritt and Wheater both had chances to extend the visitors’ lead with City flirting with a 4-5-1 formation that saw 17-year-old Boyes as the lone front-man and Farrell moved to the right flank.

The 69th-minute introduction of Sodje, however, heralded an exciting finish to the game as City reverted to two strikers and Woolford started to make inroads from the flanks.

Four minutes later, Woolford’s terrific burst from inside his own half saw him tear into the visitors’ penalty box and when his low drive was parried by Jones he had the presence of mind to poke the ball sideways for Boyes to fire between the ’keeper’s legs.

Wilkinson, who also showed a willingness to support attacks from midfield, then released Sodje with a slide-rule pass on 86 minutes and the Nigerian striker, who turned 20 on Thursday, drove an unstoppable angled shot into Jones’ top right-hand corner from 15 yards.

But City were denied a win following Middlesbrough’s final forward foray as Graeme Owens’ cross from the right found Wheater at the far post and his scuffed shot squirmed past Ingham.


York City 2, Middlesbrough 2.

York City: Ingham, Purkiss, Kelly (Parslow 60), McGurk, Robinson (McWilliams 51), Elam (Greaves 55), Rusk (Woolford 46), Henderson (Shepherd 84), Wilkinson, Brodie (Boyes 60) Farrell (Sodje 69).

Middlesbrough first half: Brad Jones, Rhys Williams, Robert Huth, Emanuel Pogatetz, Joe Bennett, Josh Walker, Didier Digard, Lee Cattermole, Adam Johnson, Afonso Alves, Jeremie Aliadiere.

Middlesbrough second half: Brad Jones, Tony McMahon, David Wheater, Jonathan Grounds, Andrew Taylor, Graeme Owens, Julio Arca, Mohamed Shawky, Stewart Downing, Jonathan Franks, Nathan Porritt.

Referee: Richard West.

Crowd: 3,177 (1,341 from Boro).