NOTHING suggests that football is back more than a cold drizzly night - and Andy Cook scoring freely.

League Two’s reigning golden boot continued to warm up for the real stuff with a couple of goals against Middlesbrough at Valley Parade - and he left the ground absolutely convinced he had a hat-trick.

With 10 days to go until the big kick-off at Crawley, it seems that Cook is carrying on from where he left off last season.

His 66-minute run-out also included an assist for City’s third which was given to Matty Platt.

But replays suggested that the centre half did not get a touch - and it was Cook’s goal as well!

All in all, a very good night’s work all round from the Bantam talisman.

It was an encouraging watch all round for the Valley Parade crowd of 4,378, including owner Stefan Rupp who is back in the country for a few days. The German will have enjoyed what he saw.

Defensively, there were a few uncomfortable moments from Middlesbrough’s movement in the first half - but City, who controlled most of the second, are unlikely to face the same speed of thought too often from attackers in the fourth tier.

Mark Hughes was denied the unofficial “bragging rights” over fellow Old Trafford alumni Michael Carrick by Boro’s late leveller in a contest that was far more entertaining than most pre-season fare.

City had kicked off with six of the starters from Saturday’s draw with Hull as Hughes continued to share round the match minutes.

But there was no Tyler Smith, who was not risked after being brought off at half-time in that game complaining of a bit of tightness.

Jamie Walker lined up in his absence as a sort-of second striker behind Andy Cook but it was a very fluid look.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mark Hughes and Michael Carrick share a laugh before kick-offMark Hughes and Michael Carrick share a laugh before kick-off (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

Alex Gilliead started at left wing-back with Daniel Oyegoke on the right. Clarke Oduor had the number 10 role he craves - and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to play further up.

In contrast to Hughes going strong with City again, Carrick’s line-up was much more of the back-up variety.

In a gloomy, grey drizzle that felt more like autumn than mid-summer, City hustled an immediate chance inside 30 seconds. Cook’s press forced a poor clearance from keeper Tom Glover but Clarke Oduor’s shot cleared the bar.

City were hustling again when Boro broke out of defence to devastating effect to grab a fifth-minute lead.

The visitors swiftly turned defence to attack through Alex Gilbert and Isaiah Jones before Sam Silvera tucked away the low cross.

It was a clinical move from a side who are very easy on the eye. But City responded with Richie Smallwood’s free-kick picking out Cook whose downward header was blocked by Jack Hannah.

The striker was not to be denied next time though as Boro paid the price for over-playing at the back, Alex Pattison proving too strong for Jack Stott in the box to set up Cook for the equaliser.

Cook then turned provider with a cross that Walker flicked goalwards but Glover held on.

It was turning into a good contest between two teams determined to play.

Jones looked a handful with his pace on Boro’s right wing - and proved too quick for Smallwood who bundled him over in the box. Gilbert sent Harry Lewis the wrong way from the spot to restore the visitors’ lead on the half hour.

But City were level again before the break - no prizes for guessing who scored their second.

Oduor delivered a perfect cross from the left that Cook dispatched with a firm header that flew past Glover via the underside of the bar.

City started the second half brightly as Cook was blocked off in the Boro D and Oduor’s shot was deflected over after a defence-splitting pass from Smallwood.

Cook then chested down Matty Platt’s pass for Walker to fire over the bar. Boro’s frustration at being penned in their half was growing as Gilbert upended Pattison.

City’s pressure was rewarded when they took the lead on 58 minutes. Smallwood’s free-kick was nodded goalwards by Cook where it appeared Platt had got the slightest of touches from close range.

The centre half was credited with the goal on the tannoy.

Later views however backed up Cook’s assertion that it was his third. Platt, to his credit, also admitted afterwards that he had not made contact.

Boro had shown little sign of coming back but grabbed a last-minute equaliser against the run of play as Silvera played in sub Daniel Nkrumah.

CITY: Lewis, Oyegoke (Halliday 59min), Platt (Taylor 59min), Stubbs (Hendrie 59min), Kelly (Odusina 46min), Gilliead (Ridehalgh 59min), Smallwood (East 66min), Pattison (Osadebe 66min), Oduor (Pointon 66min), Walker (Youmbi 66min), Cook (Derbyshire 66min).

BORO: Glover, van den Berg, Hannah, McNair, Coulson, Stott, Payero, I Jones, Gilbert, Silvera, Hoppe.