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Middlesbrough 2-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 9th Dec 2017 16:56

Goals either side of the break from Martin Braithwaite and Patrick Bamford saw Middlesbrough to a 2-0 victory over the Blues at the Riverside Stadium. Braithwaite profited from a series of Town defensive errors to give the Teessiders the lead on 44 with Bamford adding the second with a low shot off the inside of the post six minutes into the second half.

Skipper Luke Chambers returned to the Town side but otherwise the Blues were unchanged from the team which beat Nottingham Forest 4-2 last weekend with manager Mick McCarthy opting to stick with Martyn Waghorn in the lone striker’s role, despite Joe Garner’s return from his foot injury.

Chambers, who was suspended against Forest, went back into his central defensive role with Jordan Spence switching to right-back and Dominic Iorfa dropping to the bench.

Michael Crowe was the sub keeper with Dean Gerken having suffered a minor injury, while Flynn Downes was also in the 18 having been suspended last week. Former Blues skipper Grant Leadbitter started for Boro and wore their captain’s armband.

Leadbitter was one of three changes for the Teessiders with Daniel Ayala back from suspension at the centre of the defence and Bamford starting up front. Adam Forshaw, Dael Fry and Adama Traore dropped to the bench.

Town created the first chance of the half in the eighth minute. Bersant Celina was played in on the left and crossed for Waghorn but Ben Gibson got in ahead of the Blues’ 10-goal top scorer to turn the ball behind for a corner.

Boro had had most of the ball in the opening quarter of an hour but has been unable to strike an effort towards goal until the 17th minute when Stewart Downing’s shot deflected up into the air and into Bartosz Bialkowski’s arms.

A minute later, they could have taken the lead when Downing’s freekick from midway inside the Town half towards the left found Gibson unmarked in the penalty area but the former England U21 international scuffed a weak effort to Bialkowski, who claimed comfortably down to his right.

Former Town captain Leadbitter was shown the first yellow card of the game on 21 for felling Spence as he broke away on the Town right.

Chances had been few and far between at both ends but on 25 Boro weren’t too far away from opening the scoring when Downing’s fine cross found Fabio breaking into the area having got away from Ward on the left from where the former Cardiff man volleyed wide.

Ayala was fortunate not to see a card of either colour in the 28th minute when he appeared to knee Callum Connolly as the pair battled as a ball was sent into the box. The on-loan Everton man was left on the floor holding his face but referee Robert Jones, taking charge of only his sixth Championship match, felt a talking-to and the pair shaking hands was sufficient.

Former Canary Ayala didn’t take too much longer to get his name in the book, however, the Spaniard clattering through the back of Waghorn on halfway in the 31st minute to earn himself a yellow card.

Britt Assombalonga had had a quiet half but on 35 the former Forest man found space just outside the box, however, sent his shot high and wide to much derision from the increasingly frustrated home support.

Boro’s £15 million summer signing was given another chance in the 40th minute when Braithwaite played him in on the right of the area but his shot was too close to Bialkowski, who palmed behind.

On 41 Ward was tripped just outside the box as he tried to take the ball past a defender, however, referee Jones waved away the former Spurs man’s protests.

Ward caused more danger a minute later. His cross from the right reached Celina beyond the far post. The Kosovan international teed-up Emyr Huws, whose shot was blocked. The ball was subsequently played into the box for Waghorn as confusion reigned in the Boro defence but the striker was unable to turn home.

A minute before the break the home side went in front. After Huws had lost possession on halfway, Downing left Knudsen in his wake on the right and sent over a cross which Ward inadvertently diverted back across the six-yard box and after a brief scramble Braithwaite shot into the roof of the net.

There was no time for the Blues to hit back before referee Jones brought the half to an end.

Up until the goal, again more down to a series of defensive mistakes than anything else, Town had largely been comfortable with the home side having most of the ball but without creaing too many real openings.

The Blues had looked to catch the Teessiders on the break but had been unable to carve out a serious chance, despite getting into a decent situations on a couple of occasions.

Town switched Garner for Huws ahead of the second half with the former Rangers man taking up his usual role as the lone striker with Waghorn moving back into the position occupied by Huws in the first half. There was also a change of referee with fourth official Geoff Eltringham taking over from Jones.

Six minutes after the restart the home side doubled their lead. Bamford brought the ball in from the right before hitting a low 20-yard shot which flew beyond Bialkowski and into the net off the inside of the post.

Boro, full of confidence after their goals, went looking for a third, but Knudsen superbly slid in to dispossess Assombalonga after he had been played in on goal by Bamford.

If Town were to get anything out of the match they needed a foothold quickly and they weren’t far away in the 57th minute when Knudsen crossed from the left but Waghorn diverted the ball over. Two minutes later, Celina was yellow-carded for pulling back Leadbitter.

Despite Waghorn’s chance, the Blues were looking particularly likely to get back into it and on 61 Blues boss McCarthy swapped Ward and Celina for Teddy Bishop and Freddie Sears.

But the home side continued to dominate and create the odd chance here and there, Assombalonga heading a right-wing cross over in the 69th minute. Five minutes later, Braithwaite’s deflected shot looped harmlessly through to Bialkowski.

The hugely influential Downing was replaced by Marvin Johnson to a warm ovation from the Riverside crowd on 77 with Webster undergoing treatment having collided with Bialkowski as a Boro cross had come over. Both were able to continue. Three minutes later, Bamford was replaced by Rudy Gestede.

On 80 Garner shot straight at Boro keeper Darren Randolph, who had had a very quiet afternoon, the eight minutes later Connolly was found in space in the Boro area after Town’s best spell of passing in the home side’s half of the period. However, a Teessiders’ defender blocked his attempt on goal.

In the final scheduled minute, sub Johnson hit a shot which deflected through to Bialkowski, then deep in the three minutes of injury time Leadbitter was replaced by Adam Forshaw. Moments before replacement official Eltringham blew his whistle, Braithwaite curled a freekick wide.

The game followed virtually the same narrative as the Aston Villa match a fortnight ago. The Blues looked set to go in level at the break but just as they did at Villa Park gifted a goal to the home side through a series of defensive mistakes.

Half-time sub Garner hadn’t had a chance to make an impact when Boro scored their second, Bamford being allowed the space to get in his shot from distance.

There was no way back from there for the Blues who were never able to impose themselves on a Boro side which having gone ahead was buoyant and looked more likely to score a third than Town were their first.

The defeat, the Blues’ sixth on the road this season, sees McCarthy’s side drop a place behind the Teessiders on goal difference to ninth with Leeds moving up to seventh.

Town, now five points off the top six, are next in action against 15th-placed Reading at Portman Road next Saturday.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Ayala, Gibson, Fabio, Leadbitter (c) (Forshaw 90), Howson, Downing (Johnson 77), Braithwaite, Bamford (Gestede 80), Assombalonga. Unused: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Fry, Traore.

Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers (c), Webster, Knudsen, Skuse, Connolly, Ward (Bishop 61), Huws (Garner 46), Celina (Sears 61), Waghorn. Unused: M Crowe, Iorfa, Downes, Kenlock. Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside) (Geoff Eltringham (County Durham) 46). Att: 22,989 (Town: 434).

Photo: Action Images

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blue75 added 17:03 - Dec 9
Oh well we didn’t expect anything so no need to pick the bones. On to Reading like the Forrest game should be 3 points easy!!

Currie10 added 17:09 - Dec 9
Okay so saw the first half. Cannot really comment on the second.

One issue Mick really has in gaining support is when we lose, it's often without any form of threat from us. First half we CONTAINED ( as he likes to do ) Boro and restricted them to very little. We offered nada. Nowt. Nothing. Hard to watch this gameplan, though baring a stupid error would have been job done then PERHAPS build second half.

Still only 5 off the play offs ( Sheff Utd seem on a wobble ) however Boro + Leeds winning today, who are both probably far better equipped than us make the top 6 look a bit of an ask!

It's possible, however approaching half way and the table taking shape I'm not sure.

Other issue being in Jan, other sides are likely to splash some ££££. VERY hard for us to compete.


blueboy1981 added 17:12 - Dec 9
...... what were we going to do at Boro' ? - weren't we playing them at a time when they were supposedly off form .. ?

One shot on target ? ..... is not a sign of anything other than spoiling for a point, and having no Plan B after going behind. Another lesson, may I suggest, that we should go for a win from the off.

Our back four are poor, soft goals continually conceded - thank heavens for Bart.

Blue_Again added 17:14 - Dec 9
This is why we will never progress under MM! Can never follow a good result up with another one.
Feel sorry for the away fans going all the way to boro to be given that awful display to watch.

heathen66 added 17:14 - Dec 9
Certainly needs to do something in the Transfer Market come January
We have now conceded 2 goals a game in 5 of the last 6 games, and this is with a GK, 4 defenders and two holding / defensive midfielders...really not good enough.
We either need a commanding CB or a commanding holding midfielder (or perhaps both)

bluehook added 17:17 - Dec 9
I bet they were petrified when they saw Sears coming on as a sub. Jeeeeeeez

Rensham added 17:27 - Dec 9
that is the end of the game in hand....will be interesting to see the results over the Christmas period. have we got a decent squad who will scrap for the top six or are they all planning a way out like Big Mick.
Well done boys. Everyone can have a day off. COYB especially Big Mick

dirtydingusmagee added 17:29 - Dec 9
didn't expect much today to be honest , we got nothing. More disappointed with performance than result. January fast approaching ,will be interesting to see what happens re transfers .

baxter7 added 17:30 - Dec 9
Well done mcarthy your favourite captain useless chambers made us better didnt he iorfa must be laughing his head off after being dropped from a winning team last week roll on may long drive home now and its last time i will travel to anymore away games

blueherts added 17:37 - Dec 9
Win one lose one . Mick has admitted he would be happy with that. Derby apart we playing like the mid table side we are . Agree that our defensive set still does not stop us conceding . Sounds like a Mick game plan of play not to lose. Roll on May.More importantly well done Alan Lee great performance !

martin587 added 17:41 - Dec 9
We did ok in the first half,but once again terrible defending let us down.Second half we were poor.I think we only had one shot on target,but correct me if I'm wrong.I honestly thought we would offer more after two good wins,but how wrong I was.
Now thawing out before a long arduous drive home through numerous road works.I ask myself was it really worth the trip.The answer is certainly not.

blueboy1981 added 17:42 - Dec 9
....... I don't think May can come soon enough for most people to be honest.

I think anyone who was thinking of swelling the ranks / stands may now realise that REALITY has RETURNED.

blueboy1981 added 17:46 - Dec 9
....... commiserations to all you die hard travellers - you deserve much better than today's effort.

Even the die hards are questioning their belief, and dedication - sad, but true.

Cloddyseedbed added 17:51 - Dec 9
Hardly going to turn it around with Sears and Bishop coming on. What exactly does Sears bring to the team now? Bamford hadn't scored for months but managed one against our defence. In January our defence needs sorting, as does our very inconsistent performances. Brilliant one week, crap the next. We've proved we can play good football, entertain and be positive, why oh why do we keep returning to poor performances on a regular basis? I still say like many others we have a better stronger more skilful quality squad this year, we just need a better defence without the need for a midfield to help them out all the while at the expense of being able to attack on the front foot.

dangerous30 added 17:52 - Dec 9
I was happy with the starting lineup and thought we could of got something out of this game until chambers started playing last season tactics and kicking it up field, pass the ball because we do have some good gifted players who can play it at there feet. Chambers has been a good captain but his age is catching up too him. Please can we have a new centre half in the next transfer window please.

SheptonMalletBlue added 18:06 - Dec 9
Chambers will be around as long as McCarthy is. Roll on May!!!

dukey44 added 18:09 - Dec 9
Well was at game and I’m glad I live near boro cause wouldn’t have liked to have traveled 300 miles to watch that tosh. Seriously how are we in the position we are in as I can’t remember us ever being this bad? Yes the ref was bad but the team didn’t look like they were really that bothered they only ran around from the 85th min then funny enough it was after they took downing off and boro were bad too!! Sorry but our manager is really........

Currie10 added 18:20 - Dec 9
Cloddy - understand your comment re Sears as been very poor for quite a long time.

However Bishop - if he can get back to 14/15 / stay fit is certainly a good option and very welcome back in the 18 for me at least.

cat added 18:21 - Dec 9
If McCarthy owned a ‘shop’ it would be ‘shut’ most of the time! if you get where I’m coming from. Days like today are so uninspiring and mind-numbingly bland supporting the blues. We should have taken the game to them, based on both sides current form, but it appears we were on that back foot again, maybe to cover our inept No.4 (headless chicken for the first goal) well worth a watch and laugh. Chambers won’t be going anywhere Dangerous30, he’s nailed on as long as MM is manager, even more so if the fans keep moaning about him. Agree Blueboy, “May just can’t come soon enough”

Dissboyitfc added 18:27 - Dec 9
And Who ruined Sears?

Its not the losing that bothers me its how we lose, one shot on target! We are going nowhere with MM. So sorry for the supporters!

warktheline added 18:55 - Dec 9
Blueboy made a terrific point last week highlighting McCarthy's tunnel vision in relation to Chambers. Doesn't matter how well his replacement played last week, his 'proper bloke' was a shoein once available for 'selection'.

I'd be gobsmacked if we come anywhere near accumulating enough points to cement a top six finish, and if the 'impossible' happened our chances over two legged games would be minimal.

Under new management I'd be far more optimistic with squad going forward. Here's to a few more goals between now and May!

SheptonMalletBlue added 19:09 - Dec 9
Sorry cat, meant to agree with your comment

oldegold added 19:12 - Dec 9
Predictable result.....what you get if you set out to contain and not win.One shot on target says it all (none on the 2nd half ).After all the euphoria of 2 wins, some fans were jumping up and down like we were world beaters all of a sudden but I always proclaimed that under our tactically limited manager, we ain't going nowhere with this brand of anti-football.Mid table mediocrity is what hoofing deserves and it is time that with McCarthy at the helm we will always tread water as he is incapable of changing style..same old

Rensham added 19:14 - Dec 9
Big Mick is the only thing holding this team together lose him and half the team walks.

jas0999 added 19:19 - Dec 9
Not for the first time this season, rightly praised for an excellent showing last week, must be criticised for a woeful one this week - particularly the manager. Okay Boro have some good players, but are on a poor run of form. Winnable game - they weren’t great. Yet the manager set us up to bore, frustrate, draw and maybe nick all three points. It works very occasionally (Derby) but cost us today and on countless other times.

Why not go there and attack them? Particularly after last week. Such a shame, but we are an average team doing better than expected, but nowhere near play off material. Mid table.

Defensive errors still an issue. Investment in the defence needed in January. Will Evans spend? I’m not hopeful.

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