Albion PL2 5-2 Middlesbrough PL2

Reyes Cleary in action

Reyes Cleary's spectacular hat-trick helped Albion's PL2 team to a thrilling 5-2 victory over Middlesbrough on Monday night.

The prolific forward scored twice before the break and once after it on a night where Rico Richards and Ethan Ingram also found the net.

All five of Albion's strikes came after Boro had scored early on through England youth international striker Sonny Finch.

The young Baggies have now won three league games on the spin, scoring 13 goals in the process, and sit inside the play-off positions in the table.

Spectators had to wait less than 120 seconds for the contest’s first key moment. A mistake at the back allowed Finch to race clear and fire beyond Ronnie Hollingshead to give the visitors the advantage.

Richard Beale’s youngsters tried to force a speedy reply, with Cleary going close three times from long range before the 20th minute. Fellow Forward Ramello Mitchell also saw a goal-bound effort cleared away by a Boro defender. 

At the other end, Hollingshead showed bravery to dive at the feet of Frankie Whelan and prevent him getting a meaningful strike off.

But it was Albion who looked more likely to the score the game’s second goal and did so on the half-hour mark. Cleary managed, rather fortuitously, to dink the ball over Luke Daniels in the Boro goal and tap into an empty net to bring the scores level.

Reyes Cleary was among the goals once again for Albion's PL2 team

Intent on restoring their lead, Middlesbrough won a free-kick on the left side and Calum Kavanagh should’ve headed home the resulting cross, with the forward nodding over instead from the edge of the six yard box.

However, having been behind early on, the Baggies went in at the break in front after Cleary bagged his second. The striker received the ball on the edge of the box, twisted the defender inside out and calmly placed the ball into the far corner with a right-footed finish.

The away side should have made it 2-2 in the opening 20 minutes of the second half but Hollingshead made three superb saves to deny Isaac Fletcher twice and also Cameron Simpson.

And the Albion made them pay. Substitute Rico Richards found himself in plenty of space on the left side of the box and slammed the ball into the far corner to make it 3-1 after 69 minutes.

The hosts then went and scored a fourth three minutes later - an effort which was the pick of the bunch on the night. Boro failed to clear the danger on the edge of their own area and the ball fell to Cleary who unleashed a fierce first-time drive from 25 yards which crashed the underside of the bar before nestling in the net.

The fifth wasn't far away either. Ethan Ingram, who impressed throughout, rose highest to nod a Jamie Andrews corner from the left into the bottom corner away from Daniels with less than 15 minutes on the clock.

Middlesbrough fought until the end and added a second goal through Kavanagh in added time, but it proved to be nothing more than small consolation as Albion claimed an impressive three points.

Albion: Hollingshead; Hall (Nguepissi 61), Harper-Bailey, Ashworth; Ingram, Andrews, Mitchell, Shaw; Mitchell (R. Richards 65), Malcolm (Faal 61), Cleary (Wangussi 79).

Substitutes: Hudd (gk).