A YOUTHFUL Pickering Town side were narrowly beaten 1-0 at Mill Lane by Middlesbrough Under-23s.

With an important cup match on the horizon, the Pikes made five changes to last Saturday's starting line-up, fielding a side with an average age of 21 for the North Riding County FA Senior Cup first round tie.

Billal Brahimi scored the only goal of the match for the Championship side's second-string eight minutes before half-time, finishing low past Pickering keeper Charlie Andrew after a quick break down the middle.

Meanwhile, the Pikes now know their opponents for the FA Trophy third qualifying round following Ramsbottom United's 5-1 replay thumping of Yaxley last night (Tuesday).

Pickering manager Paul Marshall was in attendance at the Rams game to prepare for the Evo-Stik League west division high-fliers' visit to Mill Lane on Saturday (3pm).

In his absence, Denny Ingram and Ryan Blott took charge of the Boro game.

The Pikes started brightly and had Ged Dalton flashing a cross-cum-shot through the box before Dan Davison directed a header just over from a Dalton cross.

Boro also threatened early on the rain-swept night, with Dan Ward stretching the Pikes before Brahimi netted the eventual winner from Ward's through ball.

And Ward was in the action again in the second half, clearing off the line from a good Jack Vaulks header and, on the hour mark, Dalton directed a diving header wide from captain Lewis Taylor's free kick.

Brahimi twice fired over at the other end while Pickering brought on Billy Logan for the closing stages as they searched for the elusive equaliser.