|Middlesbrough 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 15th September 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Middlesbrough 2-0 Town
Saturday, 15th Sep 2012 17:17
Goals from Luke Williams and Mustapha Carayol saw Middlesbrough to a 2-0 victory over the Blues at the Riverside. Town had had the better of it until Williams struck in the 34th minute, Lee Martin and Paul Taylor both having forced Boro keeper Jason Steele into saves, but they didn’t seriously threaten again until the closing stages when Daryl Murphy, Michael Chopra and Taylor all went close, but sub Carayol cemented the home side’s win on the break.
As expected, boss Paul Jewell handed season-long loan signing Guirane N’Daw his Town debut from the start, the 44-times-capped Senegalese international coming into the centre of midfield alongside Andy Drury with Massimo Luongo dropping to the bench.
Skipper Carlos Edwards, over his groin injury, returned for Jack Ainsley, who joined Luongo amongst the subs, with the team otherwise unchanged, although with Lee Martin starting wide on the right and Paul Taylor behind Chopra.
Boro manager and former Blues captain and coach Tony Mowbray included another ex-Town skipper Grant Leadbitter and summer target George Friend in his team.
Taylor forced an early corner for the Blues, running on to an excellent pass from Chopra from halfway. After the flagkick was cleared to the edge of the box, the former Peterborough man turned and hit a powerful shot which deflected out to Murphy, Chopra diverting the Irishman’s cross wide.
Boro created the game’s first real chance, Adam Reach sending in a sixth-minute freekick which Jonathan Woodgate knocked down towards Andre Bikey, Daryl Murphy doing well to get in ahead of the Cameroon international to put the ball behind.
There was a bigger scare for the Blues on nine when on-loan Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran played striker Ishmael Miller in behind Luke Chambers, who managed to push the on-loan Forest man wide but couldn’t prevent him having a free run at Scott Loach. Fortunately for the Blues the keeper was off his line quickly to block Miller’s shot.
At the other end, Taylor hit a powerful shot just wide from a tight angle on the right with the Blues making good headway down that flank. On 13 Martin cut in from the same wing and hit a powerful strike which Boro keeper Jason Steele did well to push over, although Chopra felt the ex-Manchester United man ought to have laid it back to him. From the corner, Murphy headed into the England U21 international keeper’s arms.
Taylor lashed over on 18 with Town on top and passing the ball around confidently, although having created largely half-chances rather than clear-cut opportunities. A minute later, Aaron Cresswell failed to hit the target by some distance with his right foot.
Luke Williams shot wide for the Teessiders in the 22nd minute, then the impressive Taylor’s cross-shot forced Steele to tip over. From the corner, Drury found Smith unmarked at the near post and the centre-half, who returned from international duty with New Zealand only on Thursday, headed straight at the keeper, who would have been beaten had the ball flown a foot or so either side of him.
Despite the Blues having largely had the better of it, the home side went in front in the 34th minute. Town tried to play their way out of danger midway inside their half but Drury’s misplaced pass found Kevin Thomson, who played in Williams down the right and he hit a low shot across Loach and into the net.
The ever-dangerous Taylor looked to get the Blues back on terms in the 40th minute with a low shot across the face of goal, then Miller picked up the game’s first yellow card for a late and high challenge on Cresswell.
Boro had looked a much more confident side after the goal and dominated the latter stages of the half but without particularly threatening to add to their lead.
On the overall balance of the period, the scoreline was a touch harsh on the Blues, who had been in control for much of the time with Taylor proving a particular threat to the home side with his quick feet, strength and willingness to shoot.
Manager Jewell will have been particularly annoyed by the way in which the goal was conceded, the ball having been needlessly surrendered in Town’s own half of the field, much like the first two goals at Blackpool.
Boro got the second half off to a dramatic start, Adam Reach cutting in and hitting a shot which Loach batted away unconvincingly. Moments later, Miller got away down the same flank, Town’s left, and decided to take the shot on himself when he should have passed, Cresswell blocking.
The new period started in a generally scrappy manner with both sides giving the ball away too easily. Chopra was close to getting the space to shoot inside the area on a couple of occasions but each time he was muscled off the ball by a number of defenders. At the other end, Lukas Jutkiewicz headed over moments after replacing Miller.
The ex-Coventry man shot wide as the game reached the hour mark with the Blues second best and not looking too much like getting back on terms. On 63 ex-Blue Leadbitter fired over from distance.
Murphy headed Town’s first real opportunity of the second half wide in the 65th minute from an Edwards cross when he really ought to have done better, but overall the Blues were continuing to look a little flat.
Taylor, who had been quieter after the break, sprung into life in the 68th minute when he delicately fed in Chopra but Steele saved his shot. The ex-Sunderland and Newcastle man will feel he ought to have scored. For Boro, Williams went wide following a break after a Martin strike had been blocked.
Massimo Luongo replaced Drury in the Town midfield with the Blues starting to have more of the ball and look a little more threatening. On 75 Taylor shot narrowly wide from 25 yards.
Martin sent in a freekick which wasn’t far away from creeping inside the post in the 77th minute with Chambers’s shirt very clearly being grabbed. Referee Phil Gibbs wasn’t interested. Soon after, Jason Scotland replaced Murphy with Taylor switching wide.
On 81 a long spell of Blues possession ended with Chopra’s overhead kick deflecting wide. From the corner, the ball was eventually played out to Taylor but his strike flew high and wide.
Town were by now having all of the ball but without being able to find a way through the encamped Boro backline. Taylor was close to grabbing the equaliser in the 84th minute after an interchange with Luongo but the ball deflected agonisingly wide. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas replaced Chopra for the final five minutes.
As the game moved into four minutes of injury time, Steele punched poorly but Town couldn’t make the most of it.
The result was finally sealed in the third minute of injury time when Steele caught an Edwards freekick from deep which was looped into the box but beyond the massed ranks of Town players. The keeper kicked long and, with the Blues forward in numbers, found sub Mustapha Carayol in acres of space and the Gambian took the ball on and beat Loach.
There was just time for Taylor to shoot wide again before referee Gibbs brought the match to a close.
The scoreline was harsh on Town who might well have grabbed a point had Chopra or Murphy been more clinical or had one of several strikes from distance, most from Taylor, gone the other side of the post.
Until the first Boro goal the Blues had been on top with Taylor always looking a threat. After the break, the game as a whole was scrappier, but Town looked the more likely scorers in the closing stages until conceding the second goal when they were caught pushing forward to grab the equaliser.
Manager Jewell will be pleased with many aspects of the overall performance, notably Taylor and Guirane N’Daw’s tidy if unspectacular debut, but will have been annoyed give away another goal at a time when his team was on top in the manner that they did.
Town: Loach, Edwards (c), Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Drury (Luongo 72), N’Daw, Taylor, Martin, Murphy (Scotland 79), Chopra (Emmanuel-Thomas 85). Subs: Lee-Barrett, Ainsley, Hyam, Murray.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Woodgate (c), Bikey, Friend, Thomson (Zemmama 85), McEachran, Leadbitter, Reach, L Williams (Carayol 70), Miller (Jutkiewicz 57). Subs: Leutwiler, Arca, Hines, Ledesma. Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands). Att: 14,887 (Town: 390).
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